Definition of tickle in US English:

tickle

verb

[with object]
  • 1Lightly touch or prod (a person or a part of the body) in a way that causes itching and often laughter.

    ‘she tickled me under the chin’
    • ‘Texas burst into laughter, and fell over, Jude relentlessly tickling her.’
    • ‘He gently nuzzled his head into my neck, tickling me.’
    • ‘Liam started tickling her all over, Jess was screaming with laughter.’
    • ‘I opened my mouth to tell him not to tickle me, but couldn't because I was soon doubled over with laughter as he tickled me.’
    • ‘Del played along, tickling Jenny around her neck and arms.’
    • ‘She squealed with laughter as I started tickling her.’
    • ‘I pulled her flat against me and flipped over so I was on top and lightly tickled her.’
    • ‘Doc had a smile on his face and appeared to be dreaming, so we let him dream a little longer and then I lightly tickled him awake.’
    • ‘I smiled as we kissed, her touch tickling me slightly.’
    • ‘She grabbed a handful of grass and shoved it down my neck, tickling me mercilessly.’
    • ‘‘Good morning sexy,’ he said as he kissed her neck, tickling her with his mustache.’
    • ‘He wrapped it around his body, the soft velvet tickling his naked body.’
    • ‘I collapsed in laughter and began tickling him in earnest.’
    • ‘When he was tickled, he broke into loud laughter from time to time.’
    • ‘Claire traced her lips along Mark's neck, tickling him softly.’
    • ‘He grabbed her waist and tickled her lightly on the belly.’
    • ‘He grinned and continued tickling her until she fell off the couch in laughter.’
    • ‘The corn that grows from the ground reached over his small body, the leaves tickled his shirtless body as he passed through the towering rows.’
    • ‘Amber giggled and gasped lightly as he swirled her around while tickling her.’
    • ‘The boy had a big grin on his face and with the hand resting on her waist, he tickled her lightly.’
    stroke, pet, lightly touch, lightly prod, chuck
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1no object (of a part of the body) have a sensation of mild irritation or discomfort.
      ‘his throat had stopped tickling’
      • ‘I'd have a rabbit if they didn't make my nose tickle and my eyes itch.’
      • ‘‘Well, I can't stand it if my hair gets into my face,’ I continue, ‘cos it tickles and gets all itchy.’’
      • ‘It was an odd, creeping feeling, that made her body tickle and itch at the same time.’
      • ‘On some days though when you step outside your throat tickles slightly and your eyes water, often so little that you barely realize it.’
      • ‘My mouth got dry, my throat tickled and I started gagging.’
      • ‘It feels like a strange prickling sensation, and it tickles around my arms.’
      • ‘George crawled down the page, onto my arm - ‘That tickles!’’
      • ‘When we kiss it tickles now, but that doesn't stop that spark that's been there.’
      • ‘But it wasn't that annoying tingle that tickles so much it hurts feeling, it was a nice feeling, a pleasant feeling, that made me warm inside, it made me want to smile, and never stop.’
      • ‘I wanted him to stop, but it tickled so much that I couldn't help but laugh.’
      • ‘My eyes are tickling, there's a warm sensation in the corners.’
    2. 1.2 Touch with light finger movements.
      with object and complement ‘tickling the safe open took nearly ninety minutes’
      • ‘He tickled a ball wide down the leg side to be caught by the wicketkeeper.’
      • ‘Vicki released a slow and deep breath, her fingers absently tickling the corners of her Bible.’
  • 2Appeal to (someone's taste, sense of humor, curiosity, etc.)

    ‘here are a couple of anecdotes that might tickle your fancy’
    • ‘But if you've been keeping up to date with his latest offerings then no doubt this will tickle your fancy too.’
    • ‘The site is great to read, but I've edited and written lots of stuff I thought was worthy that didn't tickle his fancy.’
    • ‘The curtain, however, once installed, caught his attention and tickled his curiosity.’
    • ‘To tickle your taste buds, the food festival offers a wide range of dishes, including pastas, salads, soups, desserts and pizzas.’
    • ‘Why not tickle their impulses and your bottom line by carrying and displaying unique giftware and stationery items?’
    • ‘This information tickled the Professor's interest.’
    • ‘Robert carried a mysterious brown box in his arms, which tickled Tracy's cat-like curiosity.’
    • ‘‘I sketch a bit,’ she answered, his continued questions beginning to tickle her curiosity.’
    • ‘I may not know much, but I do happen to know of some interesting projects that will tickle your tailfeather.’
    • ‘Hang on, I'll keep this post open and add updates when I come across anything that'll tickle your fancy.’
    • ‘Have a go at Thai, Indian, Greek - whatever tickles your taste buds.’
    • ‘It was hard to say why anymore - at first it had been a joke, a game, and then because something about his friend's reserve tickled his curiosity.’
    • ‘Germany's bangers have lost their ability to tickle taste buds, according to the former head of the nation's biggest sausage-maker.’
    • ‘Asparagus has tickled the taste buds to such an extent this season that sales of the queen of vegetables have risen faster than any other vegetable.’
    • ‘They wander through an ancient forest and encounter creatures that tickle the curiosity of the child.’
    • ‘In that case, this film might not tickle your fancy, as it would probably just remind you of a boring day at the office.’
    • ‘These spicy and saucy ribs will tickle your taste buds and keep you coming back for more.’
    • ‘If you love the taste of passion fruit, this pink liqueur will certainly tickle your tastebuds.’
    • ‘Besides, the literary selections are the things that really tickle my fancy.’
    • ‘She had realized the silliness of her love for Mr. Knightley, and Mr. Martin's continued love had tickled her vanity.’
    stimulate, interest, appeal to, excite, arouse, captivate
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1usually be tickled Cause (someone) amusement or pleasure.
      ‘he is tickled by the idea’
      • ‘‘We've found that people are tickled by the idea of seeing such a familiar, everyday product used in a novel way,’ says Miller.’
      • ‘As for me, out of all the wonderful science fictiony possibilities here, the one that really tickles me is the idea of a language chip.’
      • ‘I was tickled and amused by the presentation of my waffle, but it was soggy, flaccid and certainly not as much fun to eat as it was to look at.’
      • ‘Momma was pleased, the cops were tickled, and baby just kept on dreaming.’
      • ‘I was tickled by the idea of making a film for posterity.’
      • ‘Afterwards, MacSween senior was so tickled by the idea of vegetarians venturing into a butcher's shop that he started producing the vegetarian version.’
      • ‘And I just am really tickled and pleased that we have people like our current secretary of defense and our current secretary of state.’
      • ‘On paper, the idea has tickled fans of either franchise for many a year.’
      • ‘I was always thinking that you were already my brother-in-law, and the idea just tickled me.’
      • ‘The idea of him putting on that suit tickles me.’
      • ‘Many of them were tickled at the idea of playing host to a man who might one day prominently play a role in a revolutionary Marxist movement such a long way away from their homes in Mayfair and Morningside.’
      • ‘Rafe rolled his eyes in amusement, tickled at her reaction.’
      amuse, entertain, divert, please, delight, gladden, cheer up, satisfy, gratify
      View synonyms

noun

  • 1An act of tickling someone.

    ‘Dad gave my chin a little tickle’
    • ‘No jumping up for a tickle when I've dropped my bag and sat down on the settee.’
    • ‘It nuzzled against Aben's cheek and was rewarded with a tickle and tender words.’
    • ‘She felt his soft kiss and the tickle of his long hair on her cheek.’
    • ‘I don't often snuggle up in the mornings, so she took it as a bonus, turned over on her back and presented her tummy for a tickle, feet firmly in the air.’
    • ‘They are very cute, and with so many people poking their fingers through the cage all day long are already tame and welcome a tickle.’
    • ‘He seemed glad of the company after a long, dark winter and was soon swimming through my legs and even accepting a tickle under the chin.’
    • ‘Normally the tickler is someone who desires to express intimacy, emotion, and affection through their tickling - in other words the tickle is intended as a friendly gesture.’
    • ‘He'd make humorous, taunting faces or just out-do her hits with an unserious blow or a tickle.’
    • ‘Eventually he did and was foolish enough to come over for a tickle.’
    • ‘My mother was silent, and instead of responding, she pressed a warm hand on my stomach, and attempted a tickle.’
    • ‘When I got up, she came out from under the settee to say hello and have a tickle.’
    • ‘He wouldn't settle for any nap, and any time he looked close to being sleepy Akra Jr managed to scupper it with an inappropriate tickle, loud shout or noisy toy.’
    • ‘I hopped into the backseat of my auntie Joanne's car, next to Carla, who sat in the middle of Crystal and I, and gave her a quick tickle.’
    stroke, pet, light prod, chuck
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A sensation like that of being lightly touched or prodded.
      ‘I had a tickle between my shoulder blades’
      • ‘And then his lips brushed lightly against her forehead, eliciting a tickle that she instinctively squirmed against.’
      • ‘However, the pain was little more than a tickle compared to his wing being cut off but it hurt none the less.’
      • ‘It wasn't a tickle or a scratch, and it didn't sting or irritate.’
      • ‘I have eschewed cough syrups and lozenges preferring to suck on the occasional spoonful of honey, which seems to soothe the tickle enough to let me get to sleep.’
      • ‘She could feel it like a tickle in the crash of sensations her body was experiencing.’
      • ‘I can't remember if Holly tucked both arms under and anyway, what if he wanted to itch a tickle on his nose?’
      • ‘I reached up to scratch a tickle on my right cheek and felt a hand not my own brushing my face gently, back and forth.’
      • ‘The man, feeling a tickle on his arm, looks down and sees the mosquito.’
      • ‘It's a barely noticeable sensation, just a whisper of a tickle.’
      • ‘It was just a tickle, and if he shifted, it would go away, but he didn't want to disturb Lex by moving.’
      • ‘I wake in a darkening room with a tickle in my arm.’
      • ‘It didn't hurt, it was more like an unpleasant tickle.’
      • ‘She felt a tickle across her ankle, shook it off and looked to see what it was.’
      • ‘I was puzzled for a moment, until I felt a slight tickle along my arm.’
      • ‘The pain was nothing more than a tickle as he floated along the black stream.’
      • ‘The point barely touched her skin; she only felt a small tickle.’
      • ‘A slight movement - a tickle really - on his left shin caught his attention.’
      • ‘I used to be able to touch her and hug her without feeling that familiar tickle up my spine, but now I couldn't.’
      • ‘Adam was the inspiration for the first of the Mr Men books when he asked his father what a tickle looked like.’
      • ‘There was blood flowing onto my leg, I could feel the tickle of the little droplets sliding.’

Phrases

  • be tickled pink (or to death)

    • informal Be extremely amused or pleased.

      • ‘The few articles I saw, in my comings and goings, were so good that I was tickled pink to have had them under my name.’
      • ‘Jenna was tickled pink that Amanda would take the time to make her look good in front of her neighbours.’
      • ‘I know he would have been tickled pink, a little embarrassed and mightily amused.’
      • ‘Melanie was tickled pink when she saw his picture.’
      • ‘I'd be tickled pink to run it.’
      • ‘Almost every vendor I talked to was tickled pink with the sales they garnered.’
      • ‘I was tickled pink by your article and could not agree with you more!’
      • ‘Nurses from the new breast unit at Airedale Hospital were tickled pink by a supermarket's fundraising effort.’
      • ‘Cheery ladies from Bolton were tickled pink when they learned that laughing can make people slim.’
      • ‘‘I was tickled to death to pick up the paper and read the letters to the editor,’ he said.’
  • tickle the ivories

    • informal Play the piano.

      • ‘For a couple of hours most evenings this tousle-haired young musician tickles the ivories with an eclectic but always virtuoso style.’
      • ‘Plus, Marit strums guitar and Marion tickles the ivories.’
      • ‘But at 81, he can't tickle the ivories as smoothly as he used to.’
      • ‘A pianist is preparing to tickle the ivories for 15 hours to raise money for her church and help people battle breast cancer.’
      • ‘Williams loves to play the piano and has entertained his staff with some wonderful work tickling the ivories, as well as exhibiting a sound understanding of the nuanced area of wine appreciation.’
      • ‘The month is rounded off in style with the Alexander Brothers, one of Scotland's leading bands tickling the ivories on the 24th of the month.’
      • ‘American David Bartley might well have been a drummer if he hadn't discovered his talent for tickling the ivories!’
      • ‘Unsurprisingly, as the son of possibly the world's most famous amateur jazz pianist, Eastwood started his musical life tickling the ivories.’
      • ‘The winner of the 1992 Preston Guild Piano Competition will be tickling the ivories from 1.05 pm.’
      • ‘Anyone with an urge to tickle the ivories is free to use the grand piano in the atrium.’

Origin

Middle English (in the sense ‘be delighted or thrilled’): perhaps a frequentative of tick, or an alteration of Scots and dialect kittle ‘to tickle’ (compare with kittle).

Pronunciation

tickle

/ˈtik(ə)l//ˈtɪk(ə)l/