A hickey, hickie or love bite in British English, is a bruise or bruise-like mark caused by the kissing or sucking of the skin, usually on the neck or arm. While biting might be part of giving a hickey, sucking is sufficient to burst small superficial blood vessels under the skin.
The origin of the word is from its earlier meaning of “pimple, skin lesion” (c. 1915); perhaps a sense extension and spelling variation from the earlier word meaning “small gadget, device; any unspecified object” which has an unknown origin (1909).Hickeys typically last from 5 to 12 days and may be treated in the same way as other bruises. Ways to reduce the appearance of hickeys include icing recent hickeys to reduce swelling, rubbing them with a chilled spoon to remove the bruise, and applying a warm compress to older hickeys to dilate vessels and promote blood flow. They can be covered with a concealer or powder corresponding to the sufferer’s skin tone, or a fake tan. Alternatively, articles of clothing such as scarves, snoods, turtle necks, or sleeves may be used to conceal hickeys.