|tickle your fancy
||[Dec. 14th, 2009|04:48 pm]
Historical Origins of English Words and Phrases
tickle your fancy
-This idiomatic expression is used when something pleases you or strongly engages your interest, though it can also be used as a euphemism for sexual pleasure or attraction, especially in women. If you break down the phrase, tickle is used to mean 'to excite or stir up in a pleasing manner' (think of the smiling, laughing reaction of a person being physically tickled), and fancy as a noun that means 'a notion or whim, a fantasy.' Dating at least from the late 1700's, tickle your fancy's original definition may have originally been closer to our modern euphemistic approach. One of the earliest known references comes from Abraham Tucker's 1774 In the Light of Nature Pursued, the author tells of animals "whose play had a quality of striking the joyous perception, or, as we vulgarly, say, tickling the fancy." After World War II, British English speakers began using it in a rhyming slang expression that associated a Nancy (a male homosexual) with tickling your fancy (arousing you sexually or performing sexual acts with you). An alternate version is found in strike your fancy.