As per merriam-webster "tick off" could mean "to make angry" or "reprimand". However, it seems to have another meaning in a tutorial.

There are 2 guys showing the IELTS speaking test, the women is role-playing the examiner and gives the following comments to the guy role-playing the candidate.

the examiner is ticking off, very nice linking word, very nice intonation, Oh past perfect continuous ... you're doing OK.

What is the meaning of "tick off" there?

  • The sense that it is being used there is primarily BrE: oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english/…
    – ColleenV
    May 10, 2020 at 10:43
  • @ColleenV Thank you. you mean "to put a mark ...", right?
    – Piete3r
    May 10, 2020 at 10:59
  • Well, it might be used figuratively there instead of literally checking a box - I hope someone who has more time than I do right now will write a proper answer for you.
    – ColleenV
    May 10, 2020 at 11:17

2 Answers 2


In America, this is usually called a check mark, in Britain it is usually called a tick: ✓. To tick something off (e.g. in a list) literally means to place such a mark against that item, or figuratively to name items in a list (which may be a mentally held one), as the examiner is doing.

to put a mark beside an item in a list to show that you have dealt with it:
That's one more action point that we can tick off.

to name items in a list:
She ticked off six reasons for saying no.

Tick off (Cambridge Dictionary)

  • Thank you. So, "check list" in AmE is called "tick list" in BrE, right?
    – Piete3r
    May 10, 2020 at 12:21
  • 2
    Not always. A 'check list' could be a list to things to check (i.e. examine, verify, evaluate for correctness) and we have those in BrE. May 10, 2020 at 12:30

The definition of the verbal phrase (tick off) doesn't list the sense you want, but if you look at just the verb itself, you'll see an entry for it under tick.:

transitive verb
1 : to mark with a written tick : CHECK —usually used with off
     // ticked off each item in the list
2 : to mark, count, or announce by or as if by ticking beats
     // a meter ticking off the cab fare

As a general rule, when looking up phrases like this, if you can't locate what you want from the entire phrase, look up the verb on its own, and then do a search for the additional word.

In this case, not finding it under tick off, I looked up tick and then searched for off. This let me find the entry.

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