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[kuh-res] /kəˈrɛs/
an act or gesture expressing affection, as an embrace or kiss, especially a light stroking or touching.
verb (used with object)
to touch or pat gently to show affection.
to touch, stroke, etc., lightly, as if in affection:
The breeze caressed the trees.
to treat with favor, kindness, etc.
Origin of caress
1605-15; < French caresse < Italian carezza < Vulgar Latin *caritia, equivalent to Latin cār(us) dear + -itia suffix of abstract nouns; cf. charity
Related forms
caressable, adjective
caresser, noun
caressingly, adverb
uncaressed, adjective
uncaressing, adjective
uncaressingly, adverb
1. pat, fondling, hug. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for caresses
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He looked at her somewhat abashed, but soon submitted to her caresses.

  • To my face she caressed him, and he responded to her caresses.

    Rita Laura E. Richards
  • The sufferings of her mind gave to her words and her caresses a glowing warmth that issued from her soul.

    The Alkahest Honore de Balzac
  • She did not resist, but made not the faintest return to his caresses.

    Beyond John Galsworthy
  • As for Robert, he had nothing to give but caresses, which he freely lavished upon his deliverer and upon Thaouka.

  • I returned his caresses as he fawned on me, finding me not dead as he supposed.

    In the Wilds of Florida W.H.G. Kingston
  • But Willie saw only the wild eyes of Lenora, who caught him in her arms, overwhelming him with caresses.

    Homestead on the Hillside Mary Jane Holmes
British Dictionary definitions for caresses


a gentle touch or embrace, esp one given to show affection
(transitive) to touch or stroke gently with affection or as with affection: the wind caressed her face
Derived Forms
caresser, noun
caressingly, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from French caresse, from Italian carezza, from Latin cārus dear
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for caresses



1640s, "show of endearment, display of regard," from French caresse (16c.), back-formation from caresser or else from Italian carezza "endearment," from caro "dear," from Latin carus "dear, costly, beloved" (see whore (n.)). Meaning "affectionate stroke" attested in English from 1650s.


1650s, from French caresser, from Italian carezzare "to cherish," from carezza "endearment" (see caress (n.)). Related: Caressed; caressing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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