I read the following phrase in a dating book.

find out who they are and what made them tick?

What does the phrase make the girls tick mean?

1 Answer 1


The phrase is "what makes one tick"

what makes someone tick

Fig. something that motivates someone; something that makes someone behave in a certain way.

In your dating context it implies you should not just know the person superficially but also get to know what that person is interested in, what motivates them, what are their likes and dislikes - and that will help you have a better relationship.

I imagine the origin of the idiom will be from knowing the internal machinery which makes a clock tick.

  • 7
    The imagery of clockwork is important to the phrase; if you have ever taken a clock apart to find out what makes it tick, you will appreciate how complex and challenging it is when you try to reassemble it.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Jul 18, 2011 at 11:12
  • 2
    @Kit: That sir, I have not.
    – JoseK
    Commented Jul 18, 2011 at 11:22
  • 10
    I would not recommend it then, neither with clocks nor with girls. :-)
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Jul 18, 2011 at 11:26
  • @JoseK @Kit, the clock is a good way to understand this phrase, I was thinking the other way which probably wrong, what make the girl tick on her check list.
    – mko
    Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 8:39

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