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[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
  • These royalists are in a ticklish position; I can tell her that.

    White Lies Charles Reade
  • 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
  • Here is a ticklish point—it is at this point that all splits and quarrels begin.

    The Story of My Life Egerton Ryerson
  • To hiss the curate, 'tis a ticklish sort of a job after that.

  • It is too ticklish a matter to admit of delay, either in the design or execution.

    The Lone Ranche Captain Mayne Reid
  • But the Khedive has the controlling interest, you know, and he's rather a ticklish customer.

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

  • Sure, 'tis a ticklish voyage, wid the river so full of floatin' ice.

    The Hallowell Partnership Katharine Holland Brown
  • Aye, but your Action of the Case in this Point is too ticklish.

    The City Bride (1696) Joseph Harris
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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