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verb (used with object), teased, teas·ing.
  1. to irritate or provoke with persistent petty distractions, trifling raillery, or other annoyance, often in sport.
  2. to pull apart or separate the adhering fibers of (wool or the like), as in combing or carding; comb or card, as wool; shred.
  3. to ruffle (the hair) by holding it at the ends and combing toward the scalp so as to give body to a hairdo.
  4. to raise a nap on (cloth) with teasels; teasel.
  5. Also teaser. Television Slang. a short scene or highlight shown at the beginning of a film or television show to attract the audience's attention.
verb (used without object), teased, teas·ing.
  1. to provoke or disturb a person or animal by importunity or persistent petty annoyances.
  1. a person who teases or annoys.
  2. the act of teasing or the state of being teased.

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 formsteas·a·ble, adjectiveteas·a·ble·ness, nounteas·ing·ly, adverbout·tease, verb (used with object), out·teased, out·teas·ing.un·teased, adjective

Synonyms for tease

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Synonym study

1. See bother.

Antonyms for tease

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for teasing

Contemporary Examples of teasing

Historical Examples of teasing

  • It suited his whim, and it did more than that: it gave him a chance to speak to her in his teasing way.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • Napoleon flushed with anger, enraged both at the intrusion and the teasing.

  • No; the spirit of a lion is not to be roused by the teasing of an insect.

  • She smiled faintly, vaguely, tolerantly, as if she enjoyed his pleasure in teasing her.

    Questionable Shapes

    William Dean Howells

  • "I know," answered Bart, for he had a habit of teasing his sister.

British Dictionary definitions for teasing


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



"one who teases," 1852, from tease (v.). Specifically as short for cock-teaser, it was in use by 1976.



Old English tæsan "pluck, pull apart" (fibers of wool, flax, etc.), from West Germanic *taisijanan (cf. Danish tæse, Middle Dutch tesen, Dutch tezen "to draw, pull, scratch," Old High German zeisan "to tease, pick wool").

The original sense is of running thorns through wool or flax to separate, shred, or card the fibers. The figurative sense of "vex, worry, annoy" emerged 1610s. For similar sense development, see heckle. Hairdressing sense is recorded from 1957.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

teasing in Medicine


  1. 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.