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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.
  5. to get, move, etc., by or as by tickling: She tickled him into saying yes.
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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.
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  1. an act or instance of tickling.
  2. a tickling sensation.
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  1. tickled pink, Informal. greatly pleased: She was tickled pink that someone had remembered her birthday.
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Origin of tickle

1300–50; Middle English tikelen, frequentative of tick1 (in obsolete sense) to touch lightly
Related formsun·tick·led, adjective


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for tickled


  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 greatlyhe was tickled pink to be elected president
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  1. a sensation of light stroking or itching
  2. the act of tickling
  3. Canadian (in the Atlantic Provinces) a narrow strait
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Derived Formstickly, 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

Word Origin and History for tickled


"pleased, happy," 1580s, past participle adjective from tickle (v.).

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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper