Green’s Dictionary of Slang

tickle v.

1. to amuse, to make laugh; thus tickle it v., enjoy oneself; tickled adj.

[UK]Jonson Every Man Out of his Humour I i: See how the strumpet fortune tickles him, And makes him swoon with laughter.
[UK]Marston Malcontent IV v: Agamemnon, emperor of all the merry Greeks, that tickled all true Trojans, was a cornuto.
[UK]Jonson Alchemist V ii: My bird o’ the night! we’ll tickle it at the Pigeons.
[US] in E. Cray Erotic Muse (1992) 2: It tickled the children right down to their soul (2x) / To see their pa’s nose in their mother’s peehole.
[UK]Ford ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore I iii: O, the wench! Uds sa’ me, uncle, I tickled her with a rare speech, that I made her almost burst her belly with laughing.
[UK]T. Killigrew Parson’s Wedding (1664) II ii: The hopes of such a new young thing, that has the vogue of the town for handsomest, ’twill so tickle her age, and so blow up her vanity, to have it said he is in love with her.
[UK]J. Wilson Cheats I iv: Ah! how it tickles my lungs to think how many mad frolics we have had at robbing of orchards and stealing pudding-pies.
[UK]Cibber Love Makes a Man I i: I know how to tickle the Ladies, Sir.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit 179: Thus they on Flatt’ry build Foundations bad, / And only in the empty Air they Trade; / Selling of Wind for things to support Life, / And tickle Cullies in their Folly rife.
[UK]R. Wodrow Analecta II (1842) 260: This tickled the King; and he sayes [...] ‘there is a Doctor for you!’.
[UK]T. Morton Way to Get Married in Inchbold (1808) XXV 35: Oh, Toby’s the boy to tickle them.
[US]Irving & Paulding Salmagundi (1860) 397: One circumstance, in particular, has tickled us mightily.
[UK]‘Bill Truck’ Man o’ War’s Man (1843) 183: You’ll see a sight that will tickle your blessed daylights just to a nicety.
[US]C.A. Davis Letters of Major J. Downing (1835) 21: I know it will tickle the Major most desperately.
[US]T. Haliburton Sam Slick in England II 116: I [...] rolled over and over a-laughin’, it tickled me so.
[US]‘Jonathan Slick’ High Life in N.Y. I 144: It tickled me tu see how he took tu the drink.
[UK]R.F. Walond Paddiana I 251: What tickled Mick Molony amazingly was the respect that was paid to him.
[US]‘Artemus Ward’ Artemus Ward, His Book 133: When, in tellin how she drempt she lived in Marble Halls, she sed it tickled her more than all the rest to dream she loved her feller still the same.
[US]M. Thompson Hoosier Mosaics 160: I’m goin’ right over to see the’ gal now, an’ I’ve got what’ll tickle her awfully right here in this ’ere box.
[US]E. Custer Tenting on the Plains (rev. edn 1895) 184: That tickled the boys.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 25 Jan. 5/4: This tickled the cove, and he swelled [...] with joy.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 20 Nov. 123: As he approached the door something else tickled him [...] Sandy laughed to himself.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘Out for the Day and In for the Night’ Sporting Times 9 June 1/4: She carried a ‘tiddler’ to tickle her Ted.
[US]A. Bierce letter 29 Jan. in Pope Letters of Ambrose Bierce (1922) 159: I am enclosing something that will tickle you I hope.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Bulldog Drummond 162: The absolute powerlessness of the whole assembled gang [...] tickled him to death.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 21: He laughed his hearty, boyish laugh and agreed. It tickled him for me to assume the big-woman attitude.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 380: It tickled her so that she could hardly wait to see Fran.
[US]L. Dent ‘Angelfish’ in Goulart (1967) 240: It’ll probably tickle hell out of you.
[Aus]X. Herbert Capricornia (1939) 276: This tickled Frank, who roared over it.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 22: It used to tickle me to see how they dolled themselves up for the trade.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 110: You fellers tickle me.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 209: It tickled them witless.
[US]M. Baker Nam (1982) 166: It tickled him that when we sat down and talked, he found out, hey, we were people just like him.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 13 Aug. 17: A first radio play by John Hegley [...] will tickle adults and kids alike.

2. to puzzle, to confuse.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 14 Mar. 9/3: They have been flattered and humbugged by professions of an anxiety to be their organ, and the plan adopted has been to endorse their mistakes, minister to their transient agitations, and do everything but interpret for them the great movements of their order elsewhere, and explain the fallacies by which they and their forefathers have been tickled and bamboozled.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘Ginger’s Cobber’ in Bulletin (Sydney) 22 July 6/3: It’s this noo pal uv ’is that tickles me; / ’E’s got a mumma, an’ ’is name is Keith. / A Knut upon the Block ’e used to be, / ’Ome ’ere; the sort that flashes Chiner teeth, / An’ wears ’ot socks, an’ torks a lot o’ guff; / But Ginger say’s they’re cobbers till they snuff.

3. (Aus.) in senses of verbal dexterity, to persuade, to ask someone for a favour, usu. a loan.

[Aus]Eve. News (Sydney) 28 Jan. 3/6: Mr. Trevor Jones has often tried to tickle the engineer-in-chief for water supply.
[Aus]E. Dyson Rhymes from Mines n.p.: And he let himself be tickled into casual confessions / Of his battles with the bruisers and the scientific pugs.
[UK]Yorks Eve. Post 16 Oct. 5/4: When a soldier has plenty of ‘splosh’ [...] he has either ‘tickled at home’ (had remittance from home), or has ‘touched’ his ‘flowers in May’, (drawn his pay).
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl.
[Aus]N. Pulliam I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 240/2: tickle – to try to borrow.

4. to rob, to steal from; esp. as tickle the peter

[Aus]Truth (Perth) 31 Oct. 1/5: Notwithstanding that the ‘Challenger’ was in port [...] the rooks never dealt with a solitary countryman, nor was ‘whiskers’ or ‘Jack Tar’ taken in by a tart and tickled for all his tin .
[Aus]Truth (Melbourne) 14 Aug. 2/5: The burgling of the ordinary money box is one of the simplest operations going, and [..] the police showed that it was just as easy [...] to tickle the most cunningly-devised collecting box ever rattled under a gneerous-minded person’s nose.
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl.

In compounds

tickle-gizzard (n.) [it tickles the woman’s gizzard n. (1)]

1. the penis.

[UK]Urquhart (trans.) Gargantua and Pantagruel (1927) I Bk I 44: One of them would call it her pillicock, her fiddle-diddle, her staff of love, her tickle-gizzard, her gentle-titler.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 188: Misère, f. the penis; ‘the tickle-gizzard.’.

2. a sword.

W. Maginn Whitehall 254: ‘Come out,’ said he, ‘tickle- gizzard,’ drawing his cut-and-thrust, ‘come out, my old joker’.
tickle-pitcher (n.)

1. a drunkard.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Tickle-pitcher, a Toss-pot, or Pot-companion.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Foote Author (1811) 279/1: Now, this is our dispute, whether poor little Dicky (he’s a sweet boy) shall go to Mr. Quse-Genius's at Edgware, [...] or to Dr. Tickle-pitcher’s at Barnet.
N. Bailey New Universal Etymological Eng. Dict. n.p.: TICKLE Pitcher, a Tosspot, or Pot- companion. A lewd Man or Woman.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[US]‘Jack Downing’ Andrew Jackson 189: The hoss raisin, and gamblin, and duellin, and tickle-pitchers; and those who think independence tu consist in an obstinate and hedstrong self-will.
[Ire]D.O. Madden Revelations of Ireland 116: Go rinse your mouth in the Liffey, you nasty tickle-pitcher.

2. a promiscuous person of either sex [pitcher n.1 (1)].

[UK]New Canting Dict. n.p.: tickle-pitcher [...] A lewd Man or Woman.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. 1725].
see sense 1.
[book title] The Cabinet of Fancy or Bon Ton of the day; A Whimsical, Comical, Friendly, Agreeable Composition [...] writte [sic] and compiled by Timothy Tickle-Pitcher.

3. a sword.

H. Kelly School for Wives I:iii: As this is a challenge, I shouldn't go without a sword; comedown, little tickle-pitcher. (Takes a sword).
tickle-text (n.)

a parson.

Behn Town Fop I v: Lord. Look ye here, Frank; Is this a Lady to be dislik’d? Come hither, _Frank Trusty, haste for Dr. Tickletext, my Chaplain's not in Town; I’ll have them instantly married.
Behn Feign’d Curtizans 5: [He] was sent abroad under the Government of one Mr. Tickletext, his zealous Father’s Chaplain, as errant a blockhead as a man wou’d wish to hear preach.
in J. Lenton (ed.) Pills to Purge Melancholy IV 303: She’s as Vitious as Fair, / And has more Business there, / Than to hear Mr. Tickle-text’s prating.
Gwinnett & Thomas Honourable Lovers 230: It was said, pretty pretty Miss Collier [...] was fallen in Love with Doctor Moss of Gray’s-Inn, for his Preaching. Well, I warrant this Woman thinks to find something more than Man in this eloquent Tickle-Text.
[UK]Scots Mag. 5 June 37/2: The second sort [...] under the name of Tickle-Texts, are a numerous family. Tom Tickle-Text is a man [...] more ready at words than ideas.
[UK]Foote Commissary in Works (1799) II 39: I have sent to Dr Tickletext, and the business [i.e. a wedding] will be done in the parlour below.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
tickle-toby (n.) [toby n.1 ]

1. a sword.

[UK]R. Barham ‘Grey Dolphin’ in Bentley’s Misc. Apr. 349: King Arthur’s was christened Excalibar; the Baron called his Tickletoby.
[UK]Hants. Advertiser 11 Mar. 7/5: ‘Hand me down my “tickle-toby”,’ he cried [...] meaning the rusty but trusty weapon which hung over the mantlepiece.
[UK]Hull Dly Mail 14 June 9/2: ‘Mr Bisley’ then made one or two attempts to get the point of this ‘Tickle-Toby’ into the cake.

2. the penis.

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.

3. the vagina.

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.

4. a promiscuous woman.

[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy II 242: [title] A satyr Sung in Parts: Being the Widow Tickle-Toby’s Model to the Common Councel and Livery-men of London.
[UK]Paul Pry 27 Nov. n.p.: Why the pretty bar-maid, alias Miss Tickletoby, of the ‘Sun Tavern,’ Gray's-inn-road, is so vain of her charms?

5. a rod or birch.

[UK]Birmingham Dly Post 30 Dec. 3/2: The youngsters come [...] to the great school room; the desks are removed [...] and the books, and the slates, and even great ‘tickle-toby’ are laid by.
[UK] ‘The Boarding School’ in Rakish Rhymer (1917) 50: Miss Tickletoby kept a school.
[UK] ‘New Year’s Day’ in Pearl Christmas Annual 66: ‘I know where Tickle Toby is kept,’ I said, getting the rod out.

6. (US) used as excl.

[US]Polynesian (Honolulu, HI) 21 Dec. 1/1: ‘Tickletoby!’ said he rumpling his hair into heroic expansiveness’.

In phrases

tickle one’s ear (v.)

(US teen) to call on the telephone.

N. Pepper in Indianapolis Star 12 Dec. pt 4 22/6: Tickle My Ear — Call me up.
tickle one’s innards (v.)

(US) to take a drink.

[US]N.Y. Mercury 16 Jan. in Ware (1909) 245/2: Thankee, mister ; that war well thought of. It’s Sunday ; but come, let’s steer for a side door, and tickle our innards, ye know.
tickle someone’s back (v.)

(Aus. Und.) to inflict a judicial lashingl thus n. tickle, a cat o’ nine tails.

[Aus]Australian (Sydney) 12 May 4/1: The boatswain’s mate stood ready with ‘the tickle’ called cat-o’-nine-tails.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 6 Sept. 24/1: You had better go back at once without punishment, than return with your back tickled.
[Aus]Worker (Brisbane) 20 Sept. 9/3: The convict had his back tickled with the lash.
tickle someone’s ears (v.)

to flatter.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 13 Jan. 20/2: The man who supplies cable news to Australia feels bound to earn his salary by tickling the long ears of the Australian ass.
tickle someone’s fancy (v.)

to give sexual pleasure.

[UK]N. Ward Miseries of Whoring 156: There’s something to be done, / A good Horn-Cap, or else a butter’d Bun, / Against her Master’s coming home at Night: This tickles Betty’s Fancy with Delight.
[UK] ‘Hush Cat from under the Table’ in Wardroper (1995) 171: A girl in full bloom, her name was Nancy. / I pleased her so well that ere long she did swell, / For I was a lad who could tickle her fancy.
[UK] ‘The Randy Young Maid’ in Knowing Chaunter 30: She bought dildoes – of each sort and size; / But, though they did tickle her fancy, ’tis true, / For the genuine substance she sighs.
tickle someone’s hole (v.)

to masturbate a woman, usu. performed by someone else.

[US] in E. Cray Erotic Muse (1992) 381: Oh, mother, oh, mother, he’s teasin’ me; / He’s tickling the hole I use to pee.
[US] in E. Cray Erotic Muse (1992) 7: Chorus: Roly, poly, tickle my hole-y, / Smell of my slimy slough. / Then drag your nuts across my guts, / I’m one of the whorey crew.
tickle someone’s liver (v.)

(Aus.) to stab.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 31 Jan. 7/1: About 6 o’clock in the evening, Freysse waited for Garo. (etc.) in the passage, and did his utmost to tickle his liver with a couteau de chasse.
tickle someone’s mutton (v.)

to thrash, to beat.

[UK]J. Poole Hamlet Travestie III i: Now, England, if you car’st for us a button, Thou’ll sweetly tickle this young jockey’s mutton. [Ibid.] Annotations 96: To tickle one’s mutton is a popular expression; and it means, to punish by flagellation.
tickle someone’s toby (v.) [toby n.1 ]

to thrash, to beat.

[UK]T. Shadwell Lancashire Witches Act IV: I am resolved to marry her to Morrow, and be revenged on her; if she serves me so then, I will tickle her Toby for her, faith I will.
[UK]C. Dibdin Yngr Song Smith 106: Our foes they may brag, but a fig for their boast, / We’ll tickle their tobies from pillar to post.
[UK]Islington Gaz. 14 Apr. 3/1: Uttering one of his peculiar cries, ‘Tickle me Toby, and I’ll tickle you,’ [he] leaped into the arena.
tickle the ivories (v.) (also bang the ivories, tickle the ivory, …keys, tinkle the ivories, whip the ivory) [the ivory keys]

to play the piano.

Guilelmensian (Williams Coll.) 289: One day Harold thought it would be a Good Move to tickle the Ivories at Ally’s, because his High Rolling room-mate did.
Indep. Confectioner 23 147: Harry Kerst does not look like the father of a musical prodigy. Such, however, is the case, as his son can ‘tickle the ivories’ in a manner to cause wonderment.
[Ire]Cork Examiner 25 Apr. 4/5: The statement published from New York [...] serves to prove that ‘tickling the ivories’ is a paying job.
Derby Dly Telg. 13 Jan. 5/5: ‘Tickle the Ivories’ fox-trot, one of the most successful numbers of the evening. in which the drummer and pianiste [...] were the only performers.
[US]Wood & Goddard Dict. Amer. Sl. 4: bang the ivories. Play the piano.
[UK]L. Thomas Woodfill of the Regulars 74: He [...] was still livin’ in the Klondike ticklin’ the ivories.
Inter-State Tatler 7 Jan. 8: That’s where Earl Hines tickled ivories.
[US]J.T. Farrell World I Never Made 104: ‘Say, how about tickling a few keys for us,’ Mort said, pointing to the piano.
Andy Boy ‘House Raid Blues’ [lyrics] I was playin’ the blues, about down in Liverpool, / Just whippin’ that ivory, boys, like a fool.
[US]Tampa Red ‘You Gotta Learn to Do It’ [lyrics] That’s old black Bob ticklin’ the ivories there.
[US]I. Reed Free-Lance Pallbearers 9: Dat Sammy sure can [...] tickle da ivory.
[US]L. Heinemann Paco’s Story (1987) 106: The pianist [...] sits behind an ebony baby grand in a black suit and frayed clip-on bow tie [...] ‘tickling the ivories.’.
M. Peppiatt Francis Bacon 171: He was obliged to ‘tinkle the ivories’ [...] in order to eke out an existence.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Culture 26 Sept. 5: Tickling the ivories with the very lightest of touches.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Mystery Bay Blues 65: See how you like tickling the ivories with a broken neck.
tickle the minikin (v.) [usu. used with sexual innuendo]

to play the lute or fiddle.

[UK]Marston Jacke Drums Entertainment Act I: The wenches, ha, when I was a young man and could tickle the Minikin, and made them crie thankes sweete Timothy, I had the best stroke, the sweetest touch, but now (I may sigh to say it) I am falne from the Fidle.
tickle the peter (v.) [peter n.3 (2)]

(mainly Aus./N.Z.) to rob a safe, till or cashbox.

[Aus]Truth (Perth) 19 Oct. 4/6: We can’t understand why the poets are prone / To indulge in melodious metre, / When ’tis said in the House, when in want of a loan, / The Ministers tickle the ‘peter’.
Sun (Kalgoorlie, WA) 21 July 9/3: Now, under the proposed ‘bonus for babies’ his grief would have been turned into rejoicing, the strain on the family exchequer relieved for the time being, and the necessity for tickling the peter removed by the operation of a humane maternity provision.
Call News-Pictorial (Perth) 1 Mar. 2/1: When he got short of beer money, she said, he used to pinch it from the till - ‘tickling the Peter,’ as they say.
[Aus]Mirror (Perth) 19 Mar. 13/5: Marsh was alleged to have said, that Clarence Richard Kyrwood, manager of the butchers where he had been employed, was ‘tickling the Peter’.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Power Without Glory 23: West was quite sure that Mick O’Connell and Piggy were ‘tickling the peter’ : he suspected they were failing to record and settle for some losing bets.
[Aus]N. Pulliam I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 240/2: tickle a peter – rob a cash register.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Yarns of Billy Borker 59: More blokes gone bankrupt and more bank clerks tickled the peter through following systems, and listening to tips, than you could poke a stick at.
[NZ]V.G. O’Sullivan Boy, The Bridge, The River 97: The old case of tickling the peter.
[Aus]R. Beckett Dinkum Aussie Dict. 52: Tickle the Peter; Someone who tickles the Peter is a minor thief. The English equivalent is a ‘poor box John.’.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 113/1: tickle to steal or rob, often in phr. to tickle the peter, to rob the till; NZ c.1932, Australia later.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] Tickle the peter. To embezzle small amounts over a period of time.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].
tickle the shit out of (v.) [shit, the phr. (1)]

(US) to please or amuse someone.

[UK]J. Quirk No Red Ribbons (1968) 282: By God, this tickles the livin’ shit out of me!
[US]G. Tate ‘Atomic Dog’ in Flyboy in the Buttermilk (1992) 32: Man, that tickled the shit out of me.
Scully ‘Paralegal job placement’ posting 21 Apr. at HolySmoke.org [Internet] One thing which should tickle the shit out of you, the insurance companies have decided that they will no longer pay attorney rates for work which can be done by paralegals, so paralegals are now worth their weight in gold. Who woulda thought that working cheaper would turn out to be a GOOD thing?