tickle the ivories

Play the piano, as in He went on tickling the ivories until three in the morning. This expression alludes to a piano's keys, traditionally made of ivory. [Colloquial; first half of 1900s]


Nearby words

  1. tickey,
  2. ticking,
  3. ticklace,
  4. tickle,
  5. tickle one's fancy,
  6. tickled,
  7. tickled pink,
  8. tickler,
  9. tickler coil,
  10. tickler file

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