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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English tesen, from Old English tǣsan (to tease), from Proto-West Germanic *taisijan (to separate, tug, shred).



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

  1. (transitive) To separate the fibres of (a fibrous material).
  2. (transitive) To comb (originally with teasels) so that the fibres all lie in one direction.
  3. (transitive) To backcomb.
  4. (transitive) To poke fun at, either cruelly or affectionately.
    • 1998 February 22, Judith Martin, “Tease and sympathy”, in The Washington Post[1]:
      The difference between teasing and taunting is like the difference between kissing and spitting. The ingredients are the same; it is the emotion that determines whether it is pleasing or repellent.... Proper teasing says, in effect, "I know all your little oddities and faults, but as they are part of what makes you special, I find them charming." Taunting, in contrast, makes only the harsh statement, "I have noticed what is wrong with you."
    • 2008, Lich King, “Attack of the Wrath of the War of the Death of the Strike of the Sword of the Blood of the Beast”, in Toxic Zombie Onslaught:
      The beast in the past has done horrible stuff / And his victims were left quite displeased / No one knows what he's so angry about / Maybe once in third grade he was teased
  5. (transitive) To provoke or disturb; to annoy.
    • 1684, Samuel Butler, Hudibras:
      Not by the force of carnal reason, / But indefatigable teasing.
    • 1777, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The School for Scandal, I.ii:
      I am myself, the sweetest temper'd man alive, and hate a teasing temper; and so I tell her a hundred Times a day—
    • 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 August, Robert W[illiam] Chambers, chapter VIII, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, →OCLC:
      "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.
    • 1777, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The School for Scandal, III.i:
      [H]ere comes my Helpmate!—She appears in great good humour——how happy I should be if I could teaze her into loving me tho' but a little——
  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[2]:
      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.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Tease, in the sense of "make fun of," can refer to cruel statements but also affectionate or harmless ones, which may be taken in good humour by the recipient. By contrast, taunt only refers to cruel statements, as does mock unless qualified (e.g. gently mock).

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. 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

Derived terms[edit]