tickle

verb
tick·​le | \ ˈti-kəl How to pronounce tickle (audio) \
tickled; tickling\ ˈti-​k(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce tickling (audio) \

Definition of tickle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to touch (a body part, a person, etc.) lightly so as to excite the surface nerves and cause uneasiness, laughter, or spasmodic movements
2a : to excite or stir up agreeably : please music … does more than tickle our sense of rhythm— Edward Sapir
b : to provoke to laughter or merriment : amuse were tickled by the clown's antics
3 : to touch or stir gently a pianist tickling the ivories

intransitive verb

1 : to have a tingling or prickling sensation my back tickles
2 : to excite the surface nerves to prickle

tickle

noun

Definition of tickle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act of tickling
2 : a tickling sensation
3 : something that tickles

Examples of tickle in a Sentence

Verb Her little brother screamed with laughter as she tickled him. The tag on the sweater tickled his neck. My nose started to tickle. Don't touch me there; it tickles. We were tickled by the invitation. The idea of going to the party tickled her.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Based on the popular children’s show, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Sesame Place will have all the characters that delivered timely lessons as well as talking, dancing and tickling plush toys. Scott Craven, azcentral, "A new theme park is coming to San Diego: Here's what you need to know," 21 Oct. 2019 Cormac McCarthy purchased a powder blue Olivetti Lettera 32 mechanical typewriter in a Tennessee pawnshop, in 1963, for fifty dollars, and used it for the next five decades, producing an estimated five million words tickling its ivories. Dana Schwartz Jason Adam Katzenstein, The New Yorker, "How to Choose a Writing Instrument and What It Says About You," 21 Oct. 2019 As August turned to September, the sun dropped and the first cold freshet of autumn rainwater flowed out of the mountains and tickled the noses of the salmon waiting off Astoria, where the Columbia meets the Pacific Ocean. Patrick Symmes, Harper's magazine, "The $68,000 Fish," 28 Oct. 2019 The coating looks a lot like the real thing, too, and it's been programmed to better respond to human gestures, such as pinching, poking and tickling. Dalvin Brown, USA TODAY, "Faux flesh phone cases: Does your device need a covering that feels like human skin?," 21 Oct. 2019 If things that go bump in the night tickle your fancy, there’s plenty of material to work with. David James, Anchorage Daily News, "New book explores how clairvoyants and spiritual fads followed 19th century British Arctic expeditions," 7 Dec. 2019 Cobb hollered after the pair, who seemed tickled by all the attention. Heather Knight, SFChronicle.com, "Lord of the rings: Cable car bell champ spreads good cheer," 3 Dec. 2019 On the final day of the month, the mercury tickled the 96-degree mark at San Antonio International Airport, breaking a 4-year-old record for Sept. 30 since record-keeping began in 1885. Josh Baugh, ExpressNews.com, "September heat in San Antonio broke records — lots of them," 1 Oct. 2019 Rory calls him Sparkles, which tickles me to no end. Chancellor Agard, EW.com, "Black Lightning star teases his 'surprising' 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' entrance," 26 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Anyone who has willed themselves to not feel a tickle as ticklish can appreciate the difference between stimulation and our perception of it. Austin Frakt, New York Times, "If ‘Pain Is an Opinion,’ There Are Ways to Change Your Mind," 2 Dec. 2019 Mole verde is faintly tart and tangy with tomatillos and onions; her pipián rojo is lovely and tomato-rich with a tickle of spice. Los Angeles Times, "Review: At la Diosa de los Moles, otherworldly cooking from L.A.’s mole goddess," 23 Oct. 2019 The stronger the tickle is, the larger the emoji looks. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "Nobody Asked for Artificial Skin Phone Cases," 19 Oct. 2019 If your funny bone needs a weekend tickle, though, check out one of the shows at ComedySportz San Jose. Sal Pizarro, The Mercury News, "No joke: San Jose Improv going dark for an interior makeover," 20 Aug. 2019 Try the Baldwin, an orange Fanta of a cocktail with this lovely little tickle of ginger. Washington Post, "Zeppelin is fun, but its sushi doesn’t quite fly," 1 Aug. 2019 Thank you for constantly showing our children love, adventures, and embracing them with endless cuddles and tickles. Kate Hogan, PEOPLE.com, "'Thank You for These Two Beautiful Coconuts!' The Absolute Sweetest Celeb Posts from Father's Day 2019," 17 June 2019 The music’s own, natural flourishes start to come through and just tickle (instead of bludgeoning) my pleasure receptors. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "Audio-Technica R70x review: the definition of neutral headphones," 6 July 2018 King of the hill After Saturday’s brouhaha with the Reds, sparked by Amir Garrett’s reaction to striking out Baez, the Cubs lead the majors in bullpen-clearing incidents that have resulted in nothing worse than a tickle. Paul Sullivan, chicagotribune.com, "Time for the Manny Machado watch to go into overdrive in Chicago," 20 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tickle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of tickle

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2a

Noun

1801, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tickle

Verb

Middle English tikelen; akin to Old English tinclian to tickle

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Time Traveler for tickle

Time Traveler

The first known use of tickle was in the 14th century

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Statistics for tickle

Last Updated

26 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tickle.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tickle. Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for tickle

tickle

verb
How to pronounce tickle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tickle

: to try to make (someone) laugh by lightly touching a very sensitive part of the body with your fingers, a feather, etc.
: to have or cause a slightly uncomfortable feeling on a part of your body
: to please or amuse (someone or something)

tickle

verb
tick·​le | \ ˈti-kəl How to pronounce tickle (audio) \
tickled; tickling

Kids Definition of tickle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to have a tingling or prickling sensation My nose tickles.
2 : to touch (a body part) lightly so as to cause laughter or jerky movements I tickled the baby's feet.
3 : to excite or stir up agreeably This food tickles my taste buds.
4 : amuse sense 2 … Avery was tickled to find himself so wet …— E. B. White, Charlotte's Web.

tickle

noun

Kids Definition of tickle (Entry 2 of 2)

: a tingling or prickling sensation

tickle

verb
tick·​le | \ ˈtik-əl How to pronounce tickle (audio) \
tickled; tickling\ -​(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce tickling (audio) \

Medical Definition of tickle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to have a tingling or prickling sensation my back tickles
2 : to excite the surface nerves to prickle

transitive verb

: to touch (as a body part) lightly so as to excite the surface nerves and cause uneasiness, laughter, or spasmodic movements

tickle

noun

Medical Definition of tickle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act of tickling
2 : a tickling sensation a cough is a reflex to a tickle in the throat— Karl Menninger
3 : something that tickles

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More from Merriam-Webster on tickle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tickle

Spanish Central: Translation of tickle

Nglish: Translation of tickle for Spanish Speakers

Comments on tickle

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