Our Hiccups Main Article provides a comprehensive look at the who, what, when and how of Hiccups

Definition of Hiccups

Hiccups: A hiccup is an extraordinary type of respiratory movement involving a sudden inspiration (intake of air) due to an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm accompanied by closure of the glottis (the vocal apparatus of the larynx).

The abrupt inspiration is the result of a sudden contraction of the diaphragm. Closure of the glottis then halts the incoming air. The column of air strikes the closed glottis to produce the characteristic sound: a hiccup.

Hiccups are often rhythmic. They are usually just a minor nuisance, but prolonged hiccups can become a major medical problem.

The word "hiccup" was in use by 1530. It is an instance of onomatopoeia, the imitation of natural sounds by words. Alternative forms of "hiccups" include "hiccough" and "hickup."


Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012

Search MedTerms:



Back to MedTerms online medical dictionary A-Z List
Pill Identifier Tool

Need help identifying pills and medications?
Use the pill finder tool on RxList.