Green’s Dictionary of Slang

tickle n.

[sense 1, joc. use of SE to minimise whip’s effect; sense 2, 3, ? it tickles one’s fancy or the image of SE tickling trout]

1. (Aus.) a cat o’ nine tails.

[Aus]Australian (Sydney) 12 May 4/1: [T]he boatswain’s mate stood ready with ‘the tickle,’ called cat-o’-nine-tails, [...] the grating was already secured in a perpendicular position to the ring-bolts, and the sailor pinioned by the wrists to the grating.

2. (UK Und., also tickler) a robbery or other crime, esp. a successful and lucrative one.

[US] ‘The Great Bond Robbery’ in Roberts et al. Old Sleuth’s Freaky Female Detectives (1990) 67/1: He must come down handsome when it’s a ‘tickler’ [...] I intend to get every dollar of that little ‘lift.’.
[UK]F.D. Sharpe Sharpe of the Flying Squad 333: tickle (a) : A successful deal.
[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 34: Gangland went en fête when Nobby had a ‘tickle.’.
[UK]‘Charles Raven’ Und. Nights 11: With a bit of luck Sapphire might have the tickle of a lifetime, and, at the very least, a couple of grand.
[UK](con. 1920s) J. Sparks Burglar to the Nobility 15: Knowing that if it was a nice tickle there would definitely be a bag of oats for him [i.e. a horse].
[UK]J. Barlow Burden of Proof 5: It was indeed business, a very profitable tickle.
[UK]F. Norman Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 24: Louie say anything about a nice little tickle he might have coming up?
[UK](con. 1950s–60s) in G. Tremlett Little Legs 37: Look, I’ve had a little tickle.
[UK]M. Newall ‘Sir Gawayne and the Grene Knight’ in Indep. Weekend Rev. 26 Dec. 1: I’ve got a litte tyckle going off with some tomfoolery.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 100: Much as I don’t like working with these reprobates we could all have a right tickle here.
[Scot]I. Welsh Decent Ride 35: If somebodyt offers ye a wee tickle n it looks tasty, then aye.

3. a success in gambling.

[UK]D. Powis Signs of Crime 204: Tickle [...] a medium-sized betting success: ‘A nice little tickle!’.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak 138: Tickle – money obtained in a slightly louche way e.g. a successful theft, con trick, win on the horses.

4. (Aus.) a physical beating.

[Aus]M. Coleman Fatty 163: ‘He was telling Gilly about one of the Manly moves so that he could give Crusher Cleal a tickle on the weekend’.