View synonyms for tickle


[ tik-uhl ]

verb (used with object)

, tick·led, tick·ling.
  1. to touch or stroke lightly with the fingers, a feather, etc., so as to excite a tingling or itching sensation in; titillate.
  2. to poke some sensitive part of the body so as to excite spasmodic laughter.
  3. to excite agreeably; gratify:

    to tickle someone's vanity.

  4. to excite amusement in:

    The clown's antics really tickled the kids.

    Synonyms: enchant, delight, please, amuse

  5. to get, move, etc., by or as by tickling:

    She tickled him into saying yes.

  6. to stroke the underbelly of (a fish, especially a trout) until it goes into a trancelike state, making it possible to scoop it out of the water: the ability to tickle a fish, often contested as more mythical than actual, has been written of and embellished on since ancient times:

    He tickled that fish until it stopped moving, and the next thing I knew, we were having trout for dinner!

verb (used without object)

, tick·led, tick·ling.
  1. to be affected with a tingling or itching sensation, as from light touches or strokes:

    I tickle all over.

  2. to produce such a sensation.


  1. an act or instance of tickling.
  2. a tickling sensation.


/ ˈtɪkəl /


  1. to touch, stroke, or poke (a person, part of the body, etc) so as to produce pleasure, laughter, or a twitching sensation
  2. tr to excite pleasurably; gratify
  3. tr to delight or entertain (often in the phrase tickle one's fancy )
  4. intr to itch or tingle
  5. tr to catch (a fish, esp a trout) by grasping it with the hands and gently moving the fingers into its gills
  6. tickle pink or tickle to death informal.
    to please greatly

    he was tickled pink to be elected president


  1. a sensation of light stroking or itching
  2. the act of tickling
  3. (in the Atlantic Provinces) a narrow strait

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Derived Forms

  • ˈtickly, adjective

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Other Words From

  • un·tickled adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of tickle1

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English tikelen; further origin uncertain; perhaps frequentative of tiken “to touch lightly”; tick 1 (in obsolete sense “to touch lightly”)

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Word History and Origins

Origin of tickle1

C14: related to Old English tinclian, Old High German kizziton, Old Norse kitla, Latin titillāre to titillate

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. tickled pink, Informal. greatly pleased:

    She was tickled pink that he had remembered her birthday.

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Example Sentences

The room-sized installation “Habeas Corpus” lures you through its door with the visual tickle of a disco ball.

At home, buyers build their own tacos using the accompanying tender corn tortillas, Carolina rice, sparkling pico de gallo and a salsa verde that leaves a tickle of heat in your throat.

She can’t smell and feels anxiety at the pang of a headache or tickle of a cough, worried that somehow she has been stricken anew by a virus that has already taken so much from her.

So instead she self-monitors and loads up on vitamin C and zinc, hoping the tickle in her throat disappears.

It feels like a strong tickle in a space behind the eyes and is capable of inducing tears.

From Fortune

He obliged and as we stood for the picture my CP caused me to involuntarily tickle him.

Best Moment: When Galifianakis attempts to make Cera tickle his thigh (with disappointing results).

Guys, it distinctly says “tickle me” Elmo, not “hand-to-hand combat over me” Elmo.

Nearly as outrageous was the $2,000 some early buyers were reselling their tickle-me toys for on secondhand markets.

The stretchy, leathery ring keeps you hard while the eyelashes tickle the vadge.

"It might tickle him to go to the senate, particularly if he had a score to clean up in connection with it," remarked Ware.

Twas irresistible––to be accomplished with the fool of Twist Tickle and his clever punt.

Thereafter––a hundred paces––I caught sight of the lights of the Twist Tickle meeting-house.

Twas with this hungry curiosity that I demanded of the fool of Twist Tickle how he had managed so great a thing.

I names she from a schooner that calls at Pinch-In Tickle every spring.


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More About Tickle

What is a basic definition of tickle?

Tickle means to touch sensitive body parts in order to cause laughter, to stroke lightly to cause an itching sensation, or to excite. Tickle has several other senses as a verb and a noun.

You might tickle your baby brother as part of playing to get him to laugh. Tickling involves touching sensitive body parts, such as the stomach or armpits, to cause involuntary laughter. It is usually done with the fingers, fingernails, or a feather. If someone is especially easy to make laugh by tickling, they are said to be ticklish.

  • Real-life examples: Parents often tickle babies or their children to make them laugh or cheer them up. Kids might tickle each other while playing. A person should always have permission before they tickle you.
  • Used in a sentence: When my daughter is sad, I can usually cheer her up by tickling her. 

Tickle can also mean to cause an itching or tingling sensation. It is also used to mean to experience an itching or tingling sensation.

  • Real-life examples: An uncomfortable sweater may tickle your neck. A pleasant smell can tickle your nose. A bug bite on your leg may cause your leg tickle.
  • Used in a sentence: The wind tickled the hairs on the back of my neck. 

Tickle can also be used in this sense as a noun to mean an itching or tingling sensation.

  • Used in a sentence: I felt a slight tickle on my knee after going through the poison ivy bush. 

Tickle can also mean to excite or to please.

  • Used in a sentence: The gorgeous dress tickled her sense of style. 

Where does tickle come from?

The first records of tickle come from the early 1300s. It comes from the Middle English verb tikelen. Any earlier origin is uncertain.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to tickle?

What are some synonyms for tickle?

What are some words that share a root or word element with tickle

What are some words that often get used in discussing tickle?

How is tickle used in real life?

Tickle most often means to make someone laugh by lighting touching sensitive body parts.

Try using tickle!

Which of the following words would most likely be used to describe someone who is being tickled?

A. pain
B. laughter
C. sadness
D. cold

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




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