Denotation vs. Connotation


[tik-lish] /ˈtɪk lɪʃ/
sensitive to tickling.
requiring careful or delicate handling or action; difficult or risky; dicey:
a ticklish situation.
extremely sensitive; touchy:
He is ticklish about being interrupted.
unstable or easily upset, as a boat; unsteady.
Origin of ticklish
1575-85; tickle + -ish1
Related forms
ticklishly, adverb
ticklishness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ticklish
Historical Examples
  • Take care of yourself, now, and don't indulge too much in your weakness for getting into ticklish places.

    With Sully into the Sioux Land Joseph Mills Hanson
  • They're so ticklish ever since they got the 'abit, war-time, o' mindin' wot people said.

  • There are ticklish times coming, be certain of that, and my experience may be of great service to you.

    House of Torment Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
  • Aye, but your Action of the Case in this Point is too ticklish.

    The City Bride (1696) Joseph Harris
  • To hiss the curate, 'tis a ticklish sort of a job after that.

  • I have done so without a murmur, although it puts me into a ticklish position.

  • But the Khedive has the controlling interest, you know, and he's rather a ticklish customer.

    The Great Hunger Johan Bojer
  • It is a ticklish operation and the paper is easily torn if too thin or too damp.

    The Book-Hunter at Home P. B. M. Allan
  • Sure, 'tis a ticklish voyage, wid the river so full of floatin' ice.

    The Hallowell Partnership Katharine Holland Brown
  • Poor Aspinall was on the tight-rope again, at the most ticklish part.

    Follow My leader Talbot Baines Reed
British Dictionary definitions for ticklish


susceptible and sensitive to being tickled
delicate or difficult: a ticklish situation
easily upset or offended
Derived Forms
ticklishly, adverb
ticklishness, 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
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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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for ticklish

tickle the ivories

verb phrase

To play the piano, esp to play it well (1906+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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