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.
- To separate the fibres of a fibrous material.
- To comb (originally with teasels) so that the fibres all lie in one direction.
- To back-comb.
- To poke fun at.
- To provoke or disturb; to annoy.
- He […] suffered them to tease him into acts directly opposed to his strongest inclinations.
- Not by the force of carnal reason, / But indefatigable teasing.
- 1907, Robert Chambers, chapter 8, The Younger Set:
- “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; … ”
- To entice, to tempt.
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tease (plural teases)