Tickled pink

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Tickled pink is an idiom that may not be as old as you think. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as beating around the bush, ballpark figure, let the cat out of the bag, hit the sack, Achilles heel, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, a dime a dozen, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the expression tickled pink, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Tickled pink is an idiom that means to be well pleased, to be amused, to feel great elation. Synonyms of tickled pink that may be found in a thesaurus are delighted, pleased, thrilled, overjoyed. Most believe that the idea behind the phrase tickled pink is that when one is tickled beyond endurance, one’s face tends to turn pink or red. Others cite a more figurative definition of the word tickle used since the 1600s meaning to experience enjoyment, the word pink referring to a rosy glow of pleasure. The turn of phrase tickled pink seems to have first come into use at the turn of the twentieth century. Related phrases are tickle pink, tickles pink, tickling pink, though the term is most often used is tickled pink.


However, fans of the actress, who won the award for best supporting actress for her role in The Quiet Place, were tickled pink, hailing her dress as a celebration of women’s bodies. (The Sun)

We were all tickled pink at the plethora of stars that sashayed down the red carpet in the evening of The Oscars—pink’s the word, and clearly the most popular colour choice as plenty of the celebrities braved it out in playfully chic ensembles. (The Philippine Tattler)

Birders tickled pink when roseate spoonbill showed up in Chesapeake watershed (The Bay Journal)

“I was tickled pink that this second grader had already read Tom Sawyer,” the Leonardtown resident said. (The Enterprise)

Want to know more idioms? Check out some others we covered:

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