Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Touchy; unpredictable.
  • transitive v. To tickle; arouse.
  • transitive v. To puzzle; perplex.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To tickle, to touch lightly.
  • adj. Ticklish.
  • adj. Not easily managed; troublesome; difficult; variable.
  • v. To bring forth young, as a cat; to kitten; to litter.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Ticklish; not easily managed; troublesome; difficult; variable.
  • intransitive v. To bring forth young, as a cat; to kitten; to litter.
  • transitive v. To tickle.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To tickle: frequently followed by up.
  • Ticklish; difficult; nice; not easily managed; trying; vexatious.
  • To litter; bring forth kittens.
  • To confuse with questions or statements.
  • n. A dialectal or obsolete form of kettle.
  • n. An obsolete or dialectal form of kiddle.

Etymologies

From Middle English kitillen, to tickle, probably from Old English *citelian or from Old Norse kitla.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English kitelen, from Old English citelian ("to tickle"), from Proto-Germanic *kitilōnan, frequentative form of Proto-Germanic *kitōnan (“to tickle”), from Proto-Indo-European *geid- (“to stick, jab, tickle”). Cognate with Dutch kittelen, kietelen ("to tickle"), Low German kettelen, ketelen ("to tickle"), German kitzeln ("to tickle"), Icelandic kitla ("to tickle"), Swedish kittla, kittsla, Danish kildre and perhaps Old Armenian կիծ- (kic-, "to sting, bite"). Compare tickle. (Wiktionary)
From Middle English kitelen, from Norwegian kjetla ("to bring forth young"), equivalent to kit +‎ -le. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Behind her was a big bundle of extra clothing, and food, and an iron pot -- or, as she called it, a "kittle" -- for cooking their noonday meals.

    Hillsboro People

  • "Th 'kittle's biled ef you is ready," she announced.

    Sweetapple Cove

  • The springs creaked, chirpings arose from various parts of the car as it ran, but he coaxed the engine, performed miracles at bad places in the road, nursed the insufficient radiator surface and kept the "kittle" at a simmer.

    Rimrock Trail

  • We are a "kittle" lot, and hard to please for long.

    Complete Essays

  • 'kittle's jist a-biling, and the cups and sarsers ready laid,' and that, as it was such a wretched night out o 'doors, she'd made up her mind to have a nice, hot, comfortable cup o' tea -- a determination at which, by the most singular coincidence, the other two ladies had simultaneously arrived.

    Sketches by Boz, illustrative of everyday life and every-day people

  • It minds me o' when I tellt t' doctor I was bad wi' my chest and he said it was reflective pain from my left leg. Hearts is kittle cattle at best, and jumpy as a kesh.

    From the archive, 26 January 1942: Polite conversation

  • A viewer who complains to the BBC can be sure that their complaint will be treated seriously. it is clear that the singular subject is in fact being used to mean All viewers and so the inherently plural nature of the their makes a kittle more sense.

    They forms with singular reference

  • If ennywun else wud layke a cuppa t, ai has lawtz, an teh kitteh..um…kittle…kettle is awl reddy to go an boyleng haply.

    Long cat…… - Lolcats 'n' Funny Pictures of Cats - I Can Has Cheezburger?

  • They can be 'kittle wark' to read, and most of them are a bit long and soppy.

    The WritingYA Weblog: Poetry Friday: Robert Burns, 1759-1796

  • As to a fish – kittle, Mrs. Crupp said, well! would I only come and look at the range?

    David Copperfield

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