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See more synonyms for ticklish on Thesaurus.com
  1. sensitive to tickling.
  2. requiring careful or delicate handling or action; difficult or risky; dicey: a ticklish situation.
  3. extremely sensitive; touchy: He is ticklish about being interrupted.
  4. unstable or easily upset, as a boat; unsteady.
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Origin of ticklish

First recorded in 1575–85; tickle + -ish1
Related formstick·lish·ly, adverbtick·lish·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for ticklish

Historical Examples

  • You left off in the most ticklish place possible, out of spite, I do believe.

    The Depot Master

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • They're so ticklish ever since they got the 'abit, war-time, o' mindin' wot people said.

  • These are ticklish times; I was anxious to see that this youth's pass was regular.

    Sir Jasper Carew

    Charles James Lever

  • "Ticklish job that, on a falling tide," said the mate, coolly.

  • To hiss the curate, 'tis a ticklish sort of a job after that.

British Dictionary definitions for ticklish


  1. susceptible and sensitive to being tickled
  2. delicate or difficulta ticklish situation
  3. easily upset or offended
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Derived Formsticklishly, adverbticklishness, noun
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 ticklish


"easily tickled," 1590s, from tickle + -ish. Literal sense is attested later than the figurative sense (1580s); an earlier word for this was tickly (1520s). Related: Ticklishly; ticklishness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper