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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 William 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]


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. A cock tease; an exotic dancer; a stripper.