what makes tick


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what makes (one) tick

The things that motivate someone; the reasons why a person behaves in a certain way. I'd love to sit you down for an interview and find out what makes you tick. Growing up hearing about her grandfather's heroic deeds in the war are a major part of what makes Janet tick.
See also: make, tick, what

what makes someone tick

Fig. something that motivates someone; something that makes someone behave in a certain way. (Fig. on what makes something tick.) William is sort of strange. I don't know what makes him tick. When you get to know people, you find out what makes them tick.
See also: make, tick, what

what makes something tick

Fig. the sense or mechanism that makes something run or function. (With reference to the ticking of a clock representing the functioning of the clock.) I don't know what makes it tick. I took apart the radio to find out what made it tick.
See also: make, tick, what