tickle the ivories

Idioms & Phrases

tickle the ivories

Play the piano, as in He went on tickling the ivories until three in the morning. This expression alludes to a piano's keys, traditionally made of ivory. [Colloquial; first half of 1900s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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