Definition of tease in English:


Syllabification: tease
Pronunciation: /tēz


[with object]
  • 1Make fun of or attempt to provoke (a person or animal) in a playful way: Brenda teased her father about the powerboat that he bought but seldom used [no object]: she was just teasing [with direct speech]: “Think you’re clever, don’t you?” she teased
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    • Michael laughed slightly, teasing the dog by tapping him on the side of his head, and then pulling his hand away before the dog could playfully bite him.
    • I know it's silly but I've grown used to my quiet little life, pottering about the house and garden, teasing the cats and tending the plants.
    • A visit to the city zoo was not considered complete unless one teased a monkey and made it snarl or got it to throw back the banana or nuts thrown at it.
    make fun of, poke fun at, laugh at, guy, make a monkey (out) of; taunt, bait, goad, pick on; deride, mock, ridicule
    informal rib, josh, pull/yank someone's chain, razz
  • 1.1Tempt (someone) sexually with no intention of satisfying the desire aroused.
    More example sentences
    • Those behind the service claim it will let mobile users ‘flirt, tantalise and tease other mobile users by anonymous text messages’.
    • When she woke up I kissed and teased her.
    • Again, she kissed him, to tease him into state of fiery desire.
  • 2Gently pull or comb (something tangled, especially wool or hair) into separate strands: she was teasing out the curls into her usual hairstyle
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    • Chris teased the last few tangles out of his hair.
    • His gray-green eyes sparkled with laughter and mirth, as he slung an arm around Jess, his hand teasing her hair affectionately.
    • But, however one teases out the strands, the rug remains resolutely tangled.
  • 2.1 (tease something out) Find something out from a mass of irrelevant information: a historian who tries to tease out the truth
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    • In this article we have tried to tease the meaning out of just a few of the sounds that have either been ignored or dismissed as relatively unimportant.
    • ‘Collection’ is full of contradictions, though themes can be teased out.
    • These metaphors can be teased out in many different settings, and they talk about race in terms that are internally consistent.
  • 2.2chiefly North American Comb (hair) in the reverse direction of its natural growth in order to make it appear fuller.
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    • I replied, undoing my ponytail and teasing my hair to make it look a bit better.
    • Her short blonde hair was teased into a bouffant style, but her eyes were hidden by an elegant scarlet mask.
    • Her hair was teased in a messy bun on the top of her head.
  • 2.3 archaic Comb (the surface of woven cloth) to raise a nap.
    More example sentences
    • A fuller of cloth is one who prepares cloth, teasing and thickening it.


informal Back to top  
  • 1A person who makes fun of someone playfully or unkindly.
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    • Being an awful tease, I posted something there recently under the heading ‘The neocons were right!’
    • He's a bit of a tease, too, notes another nurse nearby.
    • Spring Break girls were a tease for the guys and an obvious embarrassment for the parents and grandparents, but it was certainly not a boom for any of the girls.
  • 1.1A person who tempts someone sexually with no intention of satisfying the desire aroused.
    More example sentences
    • You ask a lot of him in this role - drag, love scenes with men - and he's presented as a sex object and a tease for other men.
    • This woman is obviously a flirt and a tease who is looking to get into trouble.
    • No one wants to be labeled immediately as the cad, the slut, or the tease; no one wants to be taken advantage of or be seen as an opportunist.
  • 1.2 [in singular] An act of making fun of or tempting someone: she couldn’t resist a gentle tease
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    • If you are not offended by Iowa's pink locker room, it may be because you recognize a joke, a tease, and a riff.
    • My pa, watching from the terrace above, had this gentle tease: With all your shots, those nets are going to need repairing.
    • It started out as a joke, a tease, but then one by one, each of us succumbed to the spirit of V-day and quite pathetically, whined about wanting a boyfriend.



More example sentences
  • Motifs wander teasingly in and out of earshot, songs accelerate, reverse, jump off cliffs, collapse in on themselves.
  • He would refer to it teasingly or with innuendo until the 1970s.
  • The translation is often used teasingly among Chinese English speakers.


Old English tǣsan ( sense 2 of the verb); related to Dutch teezen and German dialect zeisen, also to teasel. Sense 1 is a development of the earlier and more serious 'irritate by annoying actions' (early 17th century), a figurative use of the word's original sense.

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