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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.


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.
    • Thomas Macaulay (1800-1859)
      He [] suffered them to tease him into acts directly opposed to his strongest inclinations.
    • 1684, Samuel Butler, Hudibras
      Not by the force of carnal reason, / But indefatigable teasing.
    • 1907, Robert W[illiam] Chambers, “chapter VIII”, in The Younger Set (Project Gutenberg; EBook #14852), New York, N.Y.: A. L. Burt Company, published 1 February 2005 (Project Gutenberg version), OCLC 4241346:
      "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 entice, to tempt.

Derived terms[edit]


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tease (plural teases)

  1. One who teases.
  2. A single act of teasing.
  3. A cock tease; an exotic dancer; a stripper.