or tou·zle

[tou-zuh l]

verb (used with object), tou·sled, tou·sling.

to disorder or dishevel: The wind tousled our hair.
to handle roughly.


a disheveled or rumpled mass, especially of hair.
a disordered, disheveled, or tangled condition.

Origin of tousle

1400–50; late Middle English touselen (v.); cognate with Low German tūseln. See touse, -le Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for tousle

discompose, mess, rumple, clutter, muss, dishevel, disorder, disarrange

Examples from the Web for tousle

Contemporary Examples of tousle

Historical Examples of tousle

  • He's got a mane like yours before it was cut off, Essie—all in a tousle.

    Esther's Charge

    Evelyn Everett-Green

  • Roy would slap him on the shoulder and tousle his hair, but he would ask Tom's advice—and take it.

    Tom Slade at Temple Camp

    Percy K. Fitzhugh

  • Yet there looked little to pity in this jolly, rocking lad with the tousle of light hair and fresh, rosy countenance.

    Bob, Son of Battle

    Alfred Ollivant

  • Tousle may come as a visitor sometimes; and you may come always, Milly, if you'll be jolly and not tell secrets.

    Esther's Charge

    Evelyn Everett-Green

British Dictionary definitions for tousle


verb (tr)

to tangle, ruffle, or disarrange
to treat roughly


a disorderly, tangled, or rumpled state
a dishevelled or disordered mass, esp of hair

Word Origin for tousle

C15: from Low German tūsen to shake; related to Old High German zirzūsōn to tear to pieces
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 tousle

"pull roughly, disorder, dishevel," mid-15c., frequentative of -tousen "handle or push about roughly," from Old English *tusian, from Proto-Germanic *tus- (cf. Frisian tusen, Old High German erzusen, German zausen "to tug, pull, dishevel"); related to tease.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper