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The ick

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A man with long toenails and pasty skin wearing flip flops may be described as inducing the ick.[citation needed]

The ick is a slang term used to describe a feeling of disgust that arises towards a love interest, usually after a specific, often trivial, behavior. The phrase was popularized by Love Island in 2017 and attracted further attention on TikTok in 2020, where many videos feature women listing their icks.[1][2][3][4]


The phrase "getting the ick" appeared on an episode of the 1997 to 2002 television series Ally McBeal.[5] The phrase also appeared on the 1998 episode of Sex and the City, "The Ick Factor". It was further popularized by Olivia Attwood, a 2017 contestant on Love Island. She said "When you've seen a boy, and got the ick, it doesn't go... it's caught you, and it's taken over your body. It's just ick. I can't shake it off."[6] In 2020, "catching the ick" became common parlance on TikTok.[2]


The ick commonly occurs in the initial period of attraction, before a relationship has developed the loyalty that allows people to overlook small flaws.[6] The ick can arise after specific triggers, often trivial behaviors; The Guardian gave examples such as not using a pillowcase, walking angrily while wearing flip flops, letting legs dangle while sitting at a barstool, or having crusty red sauce at the corners of the mouth after eating spaghetti.[1] New York calls it "that cringey, unsettling feeling you get in your guts when someone you were previously enamored with becomes wholly repulsive to you."[6]

The Guardian wrote that "the litany of humiliation is more fine-grained than observational comedy. It felt like a new form, one with the attentiveness of poetry to intangible indignities. Hard to explain, impossible to justify, immediately resonant."[1] Icks are not serious dealbreakers such as disagreements about money or children.[4]

Some people induce the ick on purpose, imagining their crush doing ick-inducing activities, to soften the emotional toll of unrequited love.[1][7][8]

USA Today wrote that "if all your date did was botch a dance move, you should probably push your ick to the side."[4]

Psychologist Becky Spelman told The Independent that the ick might arise when we find "our unconscious mind reacting to some fundamental incompatibilities between us and the person to whom we were so recently attracted... Because of the initial rush of attraction, we've chosen to overlook these fundamental incompatibilities and to pursue a relationship with them. However, when there are serious incompatibilities, problems will emerge at some point."[9][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Samadder, Rhik (2022-07-31). "Got the ick? When a sudden pang of disgust ruins your romance". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 2024-03-04.
  2. ^ a b Lindsay, Kate (2023-10-09). "How to Avoid Giving Women 'The Ick'". GQ. Retrieved 2024-03-04.
  3. ^ Rasker, Rachel (2022-03-24). "Why we get 'the ick', plus how to overcome it". ABC Everyday. Retrieved 2024-03-04.
  4. ^ a b c "'The ick' is all over TikTok. It may be ruining your chance at love". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2024-03-04.
  5. ^ Gulla, Emily (9 August 2023). "What actually is "the ick" and why do we get it?". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 4 March 2024.
  6. ^ a b c d Singh-Kurtz, Sangeeta (2020-06-22). "You've Probably Had 'the Ick' Without Knowing It". The Cut. Retrieved 2024-03-04.
  7. ^ Winks, Kitty (2023-08-04). "Getting 'the ick' can be surprisingly helpful". Mashable. Retrieved 2024-03-04.
  8. ^ Laws, Chloe (2021-08-20). "Why 'the ick' isn't a superficial phrase used by 'picky women', but is actually a way of protecting ourselves from men who can't handle rejection". Glamour UK. Retrieved 2024-03-04.
  9. ^ "What is 'the ick' and how does it develop? Experts give us the lowdown". The Independent. 2021-08-17. Retrieved 2024-03-04.