1. The meaning that is now the dominant one, ‘busy and confused’, is fairly recent (early 20c) and has developed in the same way as the figurative meaning of feverish. Hectic was originally an adjective or noun referring to the kind of fever that accompanied consumption

• (For like the hectic in my blood he rages —Shakespeare, Hamlet iv.iii.80)

its physical use declined with the decline in occurrence of the disease itself, but fevers are still with us. An early figurative use occurs in Kipling:

• Didn't I say we never met in pup-pup-puris naturalibus, if I may so put it, without a remarkably hectic day ahead of us? —Traffics & Discoveries, 1904.

Modern examples follow (note that hectic often comes before a period of time):

• At times, though, in these hectic weeks of organization,…it seemed we should never make our deadline for packing all our gear ready to go to India —Chris Bonington, 1971

• After the hectic activity of summer, I look forward to doing more relaxed boating and fishing trips in early autumn —B. Tulloch, 1991

• Back at work after a hectic, but highly enjoyable, long weekend —weblog, BrE 2004 [OEC].

2. The adverb from hectic is hectically:

• Hectically she scrabbled for something constructive to say —R. Ash, 1993.

Note also that hectic is still occasionally used in its medical sense:

• The hectic face on the thin neck rose too sharply out of the collar of a silk blouse —Anita Brookner, 1990.

Modern English usage. 2014.

(as the fever attending consumption), / , , ,

Look at other dictionaries:

  • hectic — hec‧tic [ˈhektɪk] adjective FINANCE hectic trading is when a lot of people buy and sell shares, currencies etc: • hectic trading in which 3.1 million shares changed hands * * * hectic UK US /ˈhektɪk/ adjective ► extremely busy: »Business has been …   Financial and business terms

  • Hectic — Hec tic, a. [F. hectique, Gr. ? habitual, consumptive, fr. ? habit, a habit of body or mind, fr. ? to have; akin to Skr. sah to overpower, endure; cf. AS. sige, sigor, victory, G. sieg, Goth. sigis. Cf. {Scheme}.] 1. Habitual; constitutional;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Hectic — Hec tic, n. 1. (Med.) Hectic fever. [1913 Webster] 2. A hectic flush. [1913 Webster] It is no living hue, but a strange hectic. Byron. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • hectic — HÉCTIC v. hectică. Trimis de cata, 11.05.2008. Sursa: Neoficial  héctic adj. m., pl. héctici; f. sg. héctică, pl. héctice Trimis de siveco, 10.08.2004. Sursa: Dicţionar ortogra …   Dicționar Român

  • hectic — (adj.) late 14c., etik (in fever etik), from O.Fr. etique consumptive, from L.L. hecticus, from Gk. hektikos continuous, habitual, consumptive (of a disease, because of the constant fever), from hexis a habit (of mind or body), from ekhein have,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • hectic — [hek′tik] adj. [altered (after Fr or L) < ME etik < OFr étique (Fr hectique) < LL hecticus < Gr hektikos, habitual, hectic < hexis, permanent condition or habit of the body < echein, to have: for IE base see SCHOOL1] 1.… …   English World dictionary

  • hectic — [adj] frantic, turbulent animated, boisterous, burning, chaotic, confused, disordered, excited, exciting, fervid, fevered, feverish, flurrying, flustering, frenetic, frenzied, furious, hassle, heated, hell broke loose*, jungle*, madhouse*, nutsy* …   New thesaurus

  • hectic — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ full of incessant or frantic activity. DERIVATIVES hectically adverb. ORIGIN Greek hektikos habitual …   English terms dictionary

  • Hectic — Infobox Album | Name = Hectic Type = EP Artist = Operation Ivy Released = Original: 1988 Recorded = September 1987 Genre = Ska core Ska punk Length = 10:31 Label = Lookout Producer = Operation Ivy Last album = This album = Hectic (1988) Next… …   Wikipedia

  • hectic — /ˈhɛktɪk / (say hektik) adjective 1. characterised by great excitement, passion, activity, confusion, haste: a hectic meeting; a hectic day. 2. marking a particular habit or condition of body, as the fever of phthisis (hectic fever) when this is… …   Australian English dictionary

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