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[tik-uh l] /ˈtɪk əl/
verb (used with object), tickled, tickling.
to touch or stroke lightly with the fingers, a feather, etc., so as to excite a tingling or itching sensation in; titillate.
to poke some sensitive part of the body so as to excite spasmodic laughter.
to excite agreeably; gratify:
to tickle someone's vanity.
to excite amusement in:
The clown's antics really tickled the kids.
to get, move, etc., by or as by tickling:
She tickled him into saying yes.
verb (used without object), tickled, tickling.
to be affected with a tingling or itching sensation, as from light touches or strokes:
I tickle all over.
to produce such a sensation.
an act or instance of tickling.
a tickling sensation.
tickled pink, Informal. greatly pleased:
She was tickled pink that someone had remembered her birthday.
Origin of tickle
1300-50; Middle English tikelen, frequentative of tick1 (in obsolete sense) to touch lightly
Related forms
untickled, adjective
4. amuse, please, delight, enchant. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for tickle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • At night he would rub his unshaven cheek on Sue's small cheek and tickle her.

    The Harbor Ernest Poole
  • There is nothing I am fonder of—— Sometimes I tickle the soles of my feet with it.

  • Sometimes she'd sit down to tickle her neck with her hind-feet.

    Creatures of the Night Alfred W. Rees
  • A “tickle” is a narrow passage of water between two islands.

    Billy Topsail & Company

    Norman Duncan
  • Jimmie had brought her through the tickle without knowing it.

    Billy Topsail & Company

    Norman Duncan
British Dictionary definitions for tickle


to touch, stroke, or poke (a person, part of the body, etc) so as to produce pleasure, laughter, or a twitching sensation
(transitive) to excite pleasurably; gratify
(transitive) to delight or entertain (often in the phrase tickle one's fancy)
(intransitive) to itch or tingle
(transitive) to catch (a fish, esp a trout) by grasping it with the hands and gently moving the fingers into its gills
(informal) tickle pink, tickle to death, to please greatly: he was tickled pink to be elected president
a sensation of light stroking or itching
the act of tickling
(Canadian) (in the Atlantic Provinces) a narrow strait
Derived Forms
tickly, adjective
Word Origin
C14: related to Old English tinclian, Old High German kizziton, Old Norse kitla, Latin titillāre to titillate
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tickle

early 14c. (intransitive) "to be thrilled or tingling," of uncertain origin, possibly a frequentative form of tick (2) in its older sense of "to touch." The Old English form was tinclian. Some suggest a metathesis of kittle (Middle English kytyllen), from Dutch kietelen, from a common North Sea Germanic word for "to tickle" (cf. Old Norse kitla, Old High German kizzilon, German kitzeln).

Meaning "to excite agreeably" (late 14c.) is a translation of Latin titillare. Meaning "to touch lightly so as to cause a peculiar and uneasy sensation" is recorded from late 14c.; that of "to poke or touch so as to excite laughter" is from early 15c.; figurative sense of "to excite, amuse" is attested from 1680s. Related: Tickled; tickling. The noun is recorded from 1801.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for tickle


Related Terms

slap and tickle

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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