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From Middle English tesen, from Old English tǣsan (to tease), from Proto-Germanic *taisijaną (to separate, tug, shred), from Proto-Indo-European *dāy- (to separate, divide). Cognate with West Frisian tiezje, tiizje (to baffle, perplex), Dutch tezen (to pull, tug, scratch), German zeisen (to pluck, pluck apart), Danish tæse (to tease). Related to touse, tose.


  • enPR: tēz, IPA(key): /tiːz/
  • (file)
  • Homophones: teas, tees
  • Rhymes: -iːz


tease (third-person singular simple present teases, present participle teasing, simple past and past participle teased)

  1. to separate the fibres of a fibrous material
  2. to comb (originally with teasels) so that the fibres all lie in one direction
  3. to back-comb
  4. (transitive) to poke fun at
  5. (transitive) to provoke or disturb; to annoy
    • 1684, Samuel Butler, Hudibras
      Not by the force of carnal reason, / But indefatigable teasing.
    • 1848, Thomas Macaulay, History of England, volume I, page 76:
      He [] suffered them to tease him into acts directly opposed to his strongest inclinations.
    • 1907, Robert William Chambers, chapter VIII, in The Younger Set (Project Gutenberg; EBook #14852), New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, published 1 February 2005 (Project Gutenberg version), OCLC 24962326:
      "My tastes," he said, still smiling, "incline me to the garishly sunlit side of this planet." And, to tease her and arouse her to combat: "I prefer a farandole to a nocturne; I'd rather have a painting than an etching; Mr. Whistler bores me with his monochromatic mud; I don't like dull colours, dull sounds, dull intellects; []."
  6. (transitive) to manipulate or influence the behavior of, especially by repeated acts of irritation
    • 1815, Jane Austen, Emma, volume I, chapter 14:
      A young woman, if she fall into bad hands, may be teased, and kept at a distance from those she wants to be with; but one cannot comprehend a young man’s being under such restraint, as not to be able to spend a week with his father, if he likes it.
  7. (transitive) to entice, tempt
  8. (transitive, informal) to show as forthcoming, in the manner of a teaser
    • 2017 July 7, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, “The ambitious War For The Planet Of The Apes ends up surrendering to formula”, in The Onion AV Club[1]:
      a less interesting character here than in the previous two films, Caesar glowers through the movie, as though aware that he has been condemned to a script that is rushing to clear the stage for the straightforward Planet Of The Apes remake first teased in Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


tease (plural teases)

  1. one who teases
  2. a single act of teasing
  3. One who deliberately arouses others (usually men) sexually with no intention of satisfying that arousal.
    Synonyms: cock tease, cocktease, cockteaser, prickteaser