How to Say Tickle in American Sign Language (ASL)

Welcome to this comprehensive guide on how to say “tickle” in American Sign Language (ASL). Whether you want to learn the formal or informal way to express this playful action, we’ve got you covered! While regional variations aren’t significant for this keyword, we’ll primarily focus on providing useful tips, examples, and clear instructions. So, get ready to dive into the world of ASL and discover how to communicate the concept of tickling in this vibrant language!

Formal Way: Tickle in ASL

When it comes to saying “tickle” formally in ASL, you can use a specific sign to convey the action. Follow the steps below and learn how to perform this sign:

  1. Extend both hands in front of your body, palms open and facing up.
  2. With your fingertips slightly curved, gently touch the area just below your ribcage on one side.
  3. Repeat the same gentle touch on the other side, alternating between both hands.

This formal sign for “tickle” demonstrates the playful motion of tickling someone and is universally understood within the ASL community. Remember to keep your movements fluid and gentle to accurately represent the sensation.

Informal Way: Tickle in ASL

If you’re looking for a more casual or informal way to express “tickle” in ASL, you can resort to finger-spelling. Here’s how you can spell out “tickle” in ASL:

  1. Start by forming the letter ‘T’ with your dominant hand. Extend your index finger and thumb, keeping the other fingers curled.
  2. Use your index finger (while the thumb is still extended) to draw a small, circular motion on the top of your opposite hand or arm. This represents the tickling action.
  3. Finish by completing the spelling of “tickle” using the standard ASL fingerspelling chart, with the letters ‘I-C-K-L-E’ sequentially.

By combining the specific motion of tickling with the fingerspelling of “tickle,” you can communicate this action informally in ASL. Practice this technique to ensure your movements are clear and easily understood.

Tips for Effective Communication in ASL

To enhance your ability to communicate proficiently in ASL, consider the following tips:

  • Practice Regularly: Consistent practice will help you improve your signing skills and fluency.
  • Pay Attention to Facial Expressions: Facial expressions in ASL are crucial for conveying meaning, emotions, and tone.
  • Use Body Language: Combine your hand movements with appropriate body language to convey messages more effectively.
  • Engage with the Deaf Community: Immersing yourself in the Deaf community can provide invaluable opportunities for learning and practice.
  • Build Vocabulary: Expand your ASL vocabulary by learning new signs and practicing them regularly.
  • Be Respectful: Treat ASL as a distinct language with its own nuances and cultural aspects.

Example Sentences

Here are a few example sentences incorporating the signs for “tickle” in both the formal and informal ways:

Formal: Every time I tickle my little sister, she bursts into laughter.

Informal: My friends and I love to tickle each other to lighten the mood.

Feel free to use these sentences as inspiration to create your own by incorporating the “tickle” signs explained earlier!


Congratulations on embarking on this journey to learn how to say “tickle” in ASL! By following the formal sign or using fingerspelling for a more informal approach, you can effectively communicate this concept. Remember to practice regularly, pay attention to facial expressions and body language, and engage with the Deaf community to enhance your ASL skills. Enjoy incorporating “tickle” into your ASL conversations and interactions!

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Written by Abigail Marian

Hello there, I'm Abigail! My world revolves around bridging gaps and building connections. As an accomplished author and passionate scholar of American and British Sign Language, I humbly share my knowledge through guides that can help you articulate everything from "Family" to "Demon" in ASL. I also have a sweet spot for intriguing slang terms (ever wanted to know how to say "WTF" or "IDGAF" in sign language? Look no further!). When I'm not immersed in sign language, I dabble in knitting, enjoy jazz, and have an affinity for sun-drenched days. Join me in this silent, yet vibrantly expressive journey.

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