Definition of tease in English:



[with object]
  • 1Make fun of or attempt to provoke (a person or animal) in a playful way.

    ‘I used to tease her about being so house-proud’
    no object ‘she was just teasing’
    • ‘Kyle had blushed and they spend forever laughing and teasing him about it.’
    • ‘‘Oh poor baby,’ Kyle mocked, waving his hand idiotically in attempt to tease me.’
    • ‘As the neon sign flashes on and off outside, Chris begins to hear the disembodied voices of Kitty and Johnnie teasing him, taunting him, and accusing him.’
    • ‘A visit to the city zoo was not considered complete unless one teased a monkey and made it snarl or got it to throw back the banana or nuts thrown at it.’
    • ‘I know it's silly but I've grown used to my quiet little life, pottering about the house and garden, teasing the cats and tending the plants.’
    • ‘The staff were wonderful, friendly, approachable, the porters made me laugh and were teasing me lots on the way to the theatre.’
    • ‘Yeah, it can even be the same red that matadors use to tease the bull to charge.’
    • ‘She stops to rescue a cat being teased by a couple of ruffians.’
    • ‘Immediately Drake ran over to the group, thinking that the men were laughing and teasing her.’
    • ‘Michael laughed slightly, teasing the dog by tapping him on the side of his head, and then pulling his hand away before the dog could playfully bite him.’
    • ‘Not only that, every time they're able to score a point they start taunting and teasing us, and they were good at it.’
    • ‘Apparently realizing the folly of her ways, she declined to press charges, saying it was her fault for teasing the hungry elephant.’
    • ‘It was quite orderly to begin with, as the feeder teased the sharks with the frozen bait.’
    • ‘It seemed to be teasing her, laughing at her, and she resented it.’
    • ‘Suddenly I felt guilt, I knew I had also upset him by teasing him about Josh.’
    • ‘Josh would be teasing him for the rest of the week if he did.’
    • ‘Cats are also dangled from pieces of string to tease the fighting dogs.’
    • ‘Then I told him to stop teasing my dog and he asked me if I wanted to fight.’
    • ‘Later, I watched from the sidelines as Spanish youths teased the bulls, using their shirts as capes.’
    • ‘The younger girl wondered if Sanura was baiting her, teasing her like she always did, or if she knew what she was really saying to Kira.’
    make fun of, poke fun at, chaff, make jokes about, rag, mock, laugh at, guy, satirize, be sarcastic about
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Tempt (someone) sexually with no intention of satisfying the desire aroused.
      ‘she had thrown herself at him and teased him’
      • ‘Sure, Crudup's teasing sexuality during the first act is entertaining, but it's his desperation and her uncertainty that makes the rest of the film so enjoyable.’
      • ‘Again, she kissed him, to tease him into state of fiery desire.’
      • ‘Those behind the service claim it will let mobile users ‘flirt, tantalise and tease other mobile users by anonymous text messages’.’
      • ‘When she woke up I kissed and teased her.’
      • ‘Inside the pearly white gates of the heaven in another world, promiscuous women teased men and had many boy friends at the same time.’
      • ‘His voice had all of it's previous teasing sexuality gone, only remained the voice of a dangerous man.’
      • ‘With his schoolboy hips and abs to die for, Mick Jagger still cavorts, teases, taunts and leers in exactly the manner you expect him to.’
      • ‘Once, he teased me in class by doing sexual gestures and whatnot.’
  • 2 Gently pull or comb (tangled wool, hair, etc.) into separate strands.

    ‘she was teasing out the curls into her usual hairstyle’
    ‘tease the roots apart and replant at once’
    • ‘Instead, use a sterile needle or forceps to gently tease out and unfold the hair.’
    • ‘I put my hands on the cool stone and let the gentle breeze tease my hair away from my face.’
    • ‘Chris teased the last few tangles out of his hair.’
    • ‘But, however one teases out the strands, the rug remains resolutely tangled.’
    • ‘Insert a stake if necessary and set the plant in position, teasing out tangled roots.’
    • ‘Blethyn teases a curl of her hair pensively when I ask her if she thinks she is a good actor.’
    • ‘His gray-green eyes sparkled with laughter and mirth, as he slung an arm around Jess, his hand teasing her hair affectionately.’
    1. 2.1tease something out Find something out from a mass of irrelevant information.
      ‘a historian who tries to tease out the truth’
      • ‘In this article we have tried to tease the meaning out of just a few of the sounds that have either been ignored or dismissed as relatively unimportant.’
      • ‘I love everything about Bruce's music as a package, but if I tease out the strands, this is what I come up with.’
      • ‘The section on the 11th September disaster and its aftermath, teases out an sometimes nuanced criticism of US foreign policy.’
      • ‘‘Heckling’ then was a method of firing off questions designed to tease or comb out truths that politicians might wish to conceal or avoid.’
      • ‘These metaphors can be teased out in many different settings, and they talk about race in terms that are internally consistent.’
      • ‘In the course of the previous discussion that took place with regard to the submissions to the Local Government and Environment Committee, those issues were teased out.’
      • ‘Mascaro's analysis teases out the various strands of accountability in the fictional tragedy - questioning even whether the viewers of such shows bear some blame.’
      • ‘The word has also become associated with the French Caribbean of course (particularly New Orleans) and there it is fun to tease French roots out.’
      • ‘‘Collection’ is full of contradictions, though themes can be teased out.’
      • ‘He flirts with a phrase, whispers meaning, teases feeling out of mere notes and steps, caresses the floor.’
    2. 2.2North American Backcomb (hair) in order to make it appear fuller.
      ‘her hair is teased into spikes’
      ‘her teased bottle-blonde hair’
      • ‘Her hair was teased in a messy bun on the top of her head.’
      • ‘She teased her long brown hair and put blue eyeliner under her sky blue eyes.’
      • ‘Her hair was teased the way they did it about ten years ago.’
      • ‘They're probably too busy flossing, teasing their hair and singing along to Judy Garland records to be bothered.’
      • ‘Lightly tease a section of hair on top, and brush sides into a ponytail.’
      • ‘The womanly power revered in primitive societies was within me, as I teased my hair and pulled up the starched petticoats of the late fifties.’
      • ‘He then threw on some clothes and teased his hair up to its proper height.’
      • ‘And then it brought me my hairbrush and sat on my shoulder teasing my long brown hair.’
      • ‘You spent a lot of time flicking and teasing your hair with an Afro comb at lunch time, or during class or after class.’
      • ‘She had convinced me to leave my hair down, teasing it so it seemed much too big for a human being.’
      • ‘Men started to sport tight black leather pants and teasing their hair to incredible sizes.’
      • ‘I replied, undoing my ponytail and teasing my hair to make it look a bit better.’
      • ‘Blonde hair that was teased and curled and laced with gems and chains served as a massive crown for this overbearing woman.’
      • ‘She then teased this section and smoothed it back to meet the ponytail.’
      • ‘Put on a skinny headband, then tease the back of the hair with pomade or hair spray.’
      • ‘After shaping the spirals, he teased them with a comb for height and fullness.’
      • ‘Willy Russell's hit comedy about a hairdresser who decides there is more to life than bleaching roots and teasing frizzy perms.’
      • ‘For a messy look, tease the hair on the crown of your head, adding height.’
      • ‘Her short blonde hair was teased into a bouffant style, but her eyes were hidden by an elegant scarlet mask.’
      • ‘The staff, comprised of cute young things of both sexes, wore custom-designed Buonanotte T-shirts by Yso and the girls' hair was teased and crimped to the nth degree.’
    3. 2.3archaic Comb (the surface of woven cloth) to raise a nap.
      • ‘A fuller of cloth is one who prepares cloth, teasing and thickening it.’


  • 1informal A person who makes fun of someone playfully or unkindly.

    ‘some think of him as a tease who likes to keep others guessing’
    • ‘He was an awkward kind of fabulist, a tease who directed his subtle ironies as much at his readers as at his cats and foxes.’
    • ‘He's a bit of a tease, too, notes another nurse nearby.’
    • ‘Being a terrible tease from way back, however, I deliberately posted here recently another quotation from Lott.’
    • ‘‘Commander Blair is such a tease,’ Kyle said as he checked the Peacemaker's weapon systems.’
    • ‘Spring Break girls were a tease for the guys and an obvious embarrassment for the parents and grandparents, but it was certainly not a boom for any of the girls.’
    • ‘Being an awful tease, I posted something there recently under the heading ‘The neocons were right!’’
    • ‘Either Drudge is a tease, or I'm just too-outcast hip for my own good sometimes.’
    • ‘Ahhhhh, I love the idea of teasing Mr B. I am such a tease and I love it.’
    • ‘Sorry to be such a tease, but you can't predict the future.’
    tease, make fun of, chaff
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A person who tempts someone sexually with no intention of satisfying the desire aroused.
      ‘she was a tease—she would lead a man on, then turn cold’
      • ‘How should I balance enjoying the moment and being a tease?’
      • ‘Choreographers, especially, play fast and loose with the original, usually reducing the Don to a peripheral figure in a simple little love story about a barber and a village tease.’
      • ‘You ask a lot of him in this role - drag, love scenes with men - and he's presented as a sex object and a tease for other men.’
      • ‘She was exactly how he remembered her, how every man who grew up in the Glen remembered her: a flirt and a tease with a body to back up her confidence.’
      • ‘She has always been a flirt from the first day I met her and just because she was a little older, doesn't mean she has forgotten how much fun being a flirty tease can be.’
      • ‘I wasn't trying to be a tease: I simply realized I wasn't comfortable going all the way with him.’
      • ‘You're sweet, kind, and love to be a tease at times.’
      • ‘Either she was blissfully innocent of being a tease or she knew what sort of effect that was likely to provoke.’
      • ‘But as a filmmaker, Meyer was more of a tease than the women who starred in his films.’
      • ‘I let her know she was an incredible tease.’
      • ‘This woman is obviously a flirt and a tease who is looking to get into trouble.’
      • ‘No one wants to be labeled immediately as the cad, the slut, or the tease; no one wants to be taken advantage of or be seen as an opportunist.’
      • ‘It's just that Ozon is a great tease!’
      • ‘This evening of superb company acting has knockout performances from Eamon Morrissey and from Sarah-Jane Drummey, a luscious tease who kicks up her heels and bum like a kid goat.’
      • ‘It is guest-written by Elsie, companion to the Doctor and a big tease.’
      • ‘You think she's a tease.’
      • ‘Clearly, she's a tease, a tramp and completely selfish.’
      • ‘I told him I thought Jessica was a tease and that he should drop her, to which he replied that he was planning on it.’
      • ‘Tsarina is a big tease with the guys.’
      • ‘Many girls, which I have learnt over the years are a complete tease, complete show offs and most of all just seem to want our money.’
  • 2in singular An act of teasing someone.

    ‘she couldn't resist a gentle tease’
    • ‘As such, a department in the suitor's role often finds itself expending time, energy and self-esteem on what turns out to be an elaborate tease.’
    • ‘Calgary has been privy to teases of his product at shops such as Oxygen in Bankers Hall, and in Kensington at both Brooklyn for men and Splash for women.’
    • ‘It was instead a facetious response to an anticipated tease in an email between friends.’
    • ‘If you are not offended by Iowa's pink locker room, it may be because you recognize a joke, a tease, and a riff.’
    • ‘That writer's not an alter ego, though how much she shares with her creator is one of the device's loitering teases.’
    • ‘To make Maxim sell, they pumped up the page turning teases and never really delivered much.’
    • ‘It started out as a joke, a tease, but then one by one, each of us succumbed to the spirit of V-day and quite pathetically, whined about wanting a boyfriend.’
    • ‘Without ever being side - splitting he does coax out the odd laugh or two, and his experience is obvious as he works the audience expertly with little teases and the odd placid put-down.’
    • ‘The only real problem is the length of the side games (like the boat racing and space battle) which are more of a tease than anything.’
    • ‘My expectations were aroused by the implied metaphor, but the cover is ultimately a tease, and by page four I found myself loathing the book.’
    • ‘Her dance cavorts playfully between elegance and tease; a spin of the sari around her, and her perfectly toned midriff is exposed but for a swift moment.’
    • ‘It's about television, its little tricks and teases.’
    • ‘She meant it as a playful tease but snickers from the corner of the room made her lighthearted smile disappear.’
    • ‘If this was party policy based on the attractiveness of a summer tease, it was a poor joke unworthy of even the worst seaside comic.’
    • ‘Arabian Jazz is replete with humorous instances of recontextualized cultural inheritance, cultural teases, and trickster-like irony.’
    • ‘Her acoustic guitar and occasional pianos chink like distant cutlery amid whispered teases and the thrill of confidences shared.’
    • ‘It was alive with two irresistible teases: proximity to celebre-lites and the highly intoxicating prospect of winning money!’
    • ‘My pa, watching from the terrace above, had this gentle tease: With all your shots, those nets are going to need repairing.’
    • ‘Throughout his high school years in the nearby town of Bay Minette, he weathered the taunts and teases of classmates for being gay.’
    • ‘However, those matches involving the odd incisive break at breathtaking speed, where the ball invariably ends up in the back of the net, are something of a tantalising tease.’


Old English tǣsan (in tease (sense 2 of the verb)), of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch teezen and German dialect zeisen, also to teasel. Sense 1 is a development of the earlier and more serious ‘irritate by annoying actions’ (early 17th century), a figurative use of the word's original sense.