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See also: Tickle


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From Middle English tiklen, tikelen, of uncertain origin. Perhaps from a frequentative form of Middle English tikken (to touch lightly), thus equivalent to tick +‎ -le; or perhaps related to Old English tinclian (to tickle). Compare North Frisian tigele (to tickle) (Hallig dialect), and tiikle (to tickle) (Amrum dialect), German dialectal zicklen (to excite; stir up). Alternatively, compare Middle English kitlelen ("to tickle"; see kittle), of which tickle might ultimately be a metathetic alteration.


  • IPA(key): /ˈtɪkl̩/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪkəl
  • Hyphenation: tick‧le


tickle (plural tickles)

  1. The act of tickling.
  2. An itchy feeling resembling the result of tickling.
    I have a persistent tickle in my throat.
  3. (cricket, informal) A light tap of the ball.
    • 2016, Ann Waterhouse, Cricket Made Simple:
      There's a very fine line between a tickle and an edge!
  4. (Newfoundland) A narrow strait.
    • 2004, Richard Fortey, The Earth, Folio Society 2011, p. 169:
      Cow Head itself is a prominent headland connected to the settlement by a natural causeway, or ‘tickle’ as the Newfoundlanders prefer it.



tickle (third-person singular simple present tickles, present participle tickling, simple past and past participle tickled)

  1. (transitive) To touch repeatedly or stroke delicately in a manner which causes laughter, pleasure and twitching.
    He tickled Nancy's tummy, and she started to giggle.
  2. (transitive) To unexpectedly touch or stroke delicately in a manner which causes displeasure or withdrawal.
    A stranger tickled Nancy's tummy, causing her to scream in fear.
  3. (intransitive, of a body part) To feel as if the body part in question is being tickled.
    My nose tickles, and I'm going to sneeze!
  4. (transitive) To appeal to someone's taste, curiosity etc.
  5. (transitive) To cause delight or amusement in.
    He was tickled to receive such a wonderful gift.
    • 1733, Pope, Alexander, “Epistle II”, in An Essay on Man, lines 275–276; republished in The Complete Poetical Works of Alexander Pope, Boston, New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1902, page 145:
      Behold the child, by Nature's kindly law, / Pleas'd with a rattle, tickled with a straw.
    • c. 1608–1609, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedy of Coriolanus”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene i]:
      Such a nature / Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow / Which he treads on at noon.
  6. (intransitive) To feel titillation.
  7. (transitive) To catch fish in the hand (usually in rivers or smaller streams) by manually stimulating the fins.
  8. (archaic) To be excited or heartened.



Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


tickle (comparative more tickle, superlative most tickle)

  1. (obsolete) Changeable, capricious; insecure.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.4:
      So ticle be the termes of mortall state, / And full of subtile sophismes, which do play / With double senses, and with false debate []