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In the sentence, what’s the meaning of ‘tickled them in exactly the right place’?

There were a hundred and forty-two staircases at Hogwarts: wide, sweeping ones; narrow, rickety ones; some that led somewhere different on a Friday; some with a vanishing step halfway up that you had to remember to jump. Then there were doors that wouldn't open unless you asked politely, or tickled them in exactly the right place, and doors that weren't really doors at all, but solid walls just pretending.

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closed as general reference by J.R., Matt E. Эллен, StoneyB, Zairja, RegDwigнt Nov 15 '12 at 20:19

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

It means the walls would open if they were tickled in exactly the right place. No more, no less. – Matt E. Эллен Nov 15 '12 at 10:39
up vote 1 down vote accepted

In this context it means exactly what it says, just gently brush one specific spot on the door to make it open.

It's probably a play on an idiom of tickling/scratching/brushing just the right way/spot which means saying or doing something for someone that makes them unusually favorable towards you, say, praising something that seems they are secretly very proud of, or giving a gift that another person would consider trite, that holds a very special appeal to the one you're giving it to.

This is opposite to brushing the wrong way, saying or doing a thing that others would consider at worst slightly iring, more commonly totally neutral, while the person finds it unusually upsetting.

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Each door has a very narrow, specific area that you have to tickle so that it opens. So unless you ask the door politely or tickle in that exact spot, it won't open.

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I'd also like to point out that this is how tickling works sometimes. A lot of people have certain "tickle spots" – you can try to tickle someone and get no reaction, but then move your hand just a little bit, and then suddenly, they are being tickled. In order to tickle them, you must do so in exactly the right place. – J.R. Nov 15 '12 at 9:07

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