[ tik-uhl ]
/ ˈtɪk əl /
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See synonyms for: tickle / tickled / tickling on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), tick·led, tick·ling.
verb (used without object), tick·led, tick·ling.
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.
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Idioms about tickle

    tickled pink, Informal. greatly pleased: She was tickled pink that he had remembered her birthday.

Origin of tickle

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English tikelen; further origin uncertain; perhaps frequentative of tiken “to touch lightly”; see origin at tick1 (in obsolete sense “to touch lightly”)


un·tick·led, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


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.

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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

How to use tickle in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for tickle

/ (ˈtɪkəl) /


Derived forms of tickle

tickly, adjective

Word Origin for tickle

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