verb (used with object), teased, teas·ing.

verb (used without object), teased, teas·ing.

to provoke or disturb a person or animal by importunity or persistent petty annoyances.


a person who teases or annoys.
the act of teasing or the state of being teased.

Nearby words

  1. tearstain,
  2. teary,
  3. teary-eyed,
  4. teasdale,
  5. teasdale, sara,
  6. tease out,
  7. teasel,
  8. teasel family,
  9. teasel gourd,
  10. teaser

Origin of tease

before 1000; Middle English tesen (v.), Old English tǣsan to pull, tear, comb; cognate with Middle Low German tesen, Old High German zeisan to pluck

Related forms

Synonym study

1. See bother.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tease

British Dictionary definitions for tease



to annoy (someone) by deliberately offering something with the intention of delaying or withdrawing the offer
to arouse sexual desire in (someone) with no intention of satisfying it
to vex (someone) maliciously or playfully, esp by ridicule
(tr) to separate the fibres of; comb; card
(tr) to raise the nap of (a fabric) with a teasel
Also: backcomb US and Canadian to comb the under layers of (the hair) towards the roots to give more bulk to a hairstyle
(tr) to loosen or pull apart (biological tissues, etc) by delicate agitation or prodding with an instrument


a person or thing that teases
the act of teasing
See also tease out

Derived Formsteasing, adjectiveteasingly, adverb

Word Origin for tease

Old English tǣsan; related to Old High German zeisan to pick

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

Word Origin and History for tease
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for tease




To separate the structural parts of a tissue, as with a needle, in order to prepare it for microscopic examination.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.