disordered or disheveled: tousled hair; tousled clothes.

Origin of tousled

First recorded in 1840–50; tousle + -ed2

Synonyms for tousled

messy, tangled, untidy, rumpled.


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

Examples from the Web for tousled

Contemporary Examples of tousled

Historical Examples of tousled

  • Martha could see it move, a tousled shadow against the light.

    Galusha the Magnificent

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Andre-Louis revealed himself by a further protrusion of his tousled head.


    Rafael Sabatini

  • Then she patted the sober-faced youngster on his tousled head and left.

    Foundling on Venus

    John de Courcy

  • His longish, tousled hair and his great beard were purple-black.


    Joseph Conrad

  • The dwarf grunted and combed his thick, tousled hair with his fingers.

    In Apple-Blossom Time

    Clara Louise Burnham

British Dictionary definitions for tousled


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 tousled



"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