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[hek-tik] /ˈhɛk tɪk/
characterized by intense agitation, excitement, confused and rapid movement, etc.:
The week before the trip was hectic and exhausting.
Origin of hectic
1350-1400; Middle English < Late Latin hecticus < Greek hektikós habitual, consumptive, adj. corresponding to héxis possession, state, habit, equivalent to *hech-, base of échein to have + -sis -sis; see -tic; replacing Middle English etyk < Middle French
Related forms
hectically, hecticly, adverb
hecticness, noun
nonhectic, adjective
nonhectically, adverb
unhectic, adjective
unhectically, adverb
frantic, frenzied, wild, chaotic. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for hectic
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Her dim, sunken eye, and the hectic spot on her faded cheek, gave sad token that her words were too likely to be fulfilled.

  • The nervous, hectic state of the journalists made him feel nervous too.

    Changing Winds St. John G. Ervine
  • Mrs. Galland entered to find her daughter before the mirror brushing her hair with hectic vigor.

    The Last Shot Frederick Palmer
  • His pale cheeks were lit by a hectic flush of intense feeling.

  • We narrow down from these to hectic souls content with a few thoughts which serve as a basis for the hearts fervours.

British Dictionary definitions for hectic


characterized by extreme activity or excitement
associated with, peculiar to, or symptomatic of tuberculosis (esp in the phrases hectic fever, hectic flush)
a hectic fever or flush
(rare) a person who is consumptive or who experiences a hectic fever or flush
Derived Forms
hectically, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Late Latin hecticus, from Greek hektikos habitual, from hexis state, from ekhein to have
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hectic

late 14c., etik (in fever etik), from Old French etique "consumptive," from Late Latin hecticus, from Greek hektikos "continuous, habitual, consumptive" (of a disease, because of the constant fever), from hexis "a habit (of mind or body)," from ekhein "have, hold, continue" (see scheme).

The Latin -h- was restored in English 16c. Sense of "feverishly exciting, full of disorganized activity" first recorded 1904, but hectic also was used in Middle English as a noun meaning "feverish desire, consuming passion" (early 15c.). Hectic fevers are characterized by rapid pulse, among other symptoms. Related: Hecticness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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