verb (used with object), tick·led, tick·ling.
verb (used without object), tick·led, tick·ling.
Origin of tickle
Synonyms for tickle
Word Origin 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.
Also, tickled to death. Delighted, as in I was tickled pink when I got his autograph, or His parents were tickled to death when he decided to marry her. The first term, first recorded in 1922, alludes to one's face turning pink with laughter when one is being tickled. The variant, clearly a hyperbole, dates from about 1800.