If you’ve ever spotted an additional freckle or two on your cheeks after a long day out in the sun, then you would probably be able to count some new ferntickles on your face.
Ferntickles, once thought to be a result of being touched by fairies, are often associated with Scots of a fairer complexion - particularly redheads.
The term derives from the Middle English term farntikylle; tickle also refers to the size of freckles, much like the word pickle does.
Over the years, ferntickles have been seen as both an attractive feature and a blight on someone’s appearance. A number of remedies were used in previous centuries to rid their skin of ferntickles, but a high-factor sunlotion is perhaps better suited to the task than vinegar or lemon juice.
Ferntickled can also describe a phrase or tale that is hackneyed or overused - most of all, perhaps, the notion that a clutch of freckles on someone’s face could be viewed as unsightly.