Definition of tease in US English:



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

    no object ‘she was just teasing’
    ‘Brenda teased her father about the powerboat that he bought but seldom used’
    with direct speech ‘“Think you're clever, don't you?” she teased’
    • ‘Kyle had blushed and they spend forever laughing and teasing him about it.’
    • ‘The staff were wonderful, friendly, approachable, the porters made me laugh and were teasing me lots on the way to the theatre.’
    • ‘Not only that, every time they're able to score a point they start taunting and teasing us, and they were good at it.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Then I told him to stop teasing my dog and he asked me if I wanted to fight.’
    • ‘Cats are also dangled from pieces of string to tease the fighting dogs.’
    • ‘It seemed to be teasing her, laughing at her, and she resented it.’
    • ‘Apparently realizing the folly of her ways, she declined to press charges, saying it was her fault for teasing the hungry elephant.’
    • ‘She stops to rescue a cat being teased by a couple of ruffians.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Later, I watched from the sidelines as Spanish youths teased the bulls, using their shirts as capes.’
    • ‘Josh would be teasing him for the rest of the week if he did.’
    • ‘Immediately Drake ran over to the group, thinking that the men were laughing and teasing her.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Suddenly I felt guilt, I knew I had also upset him by teasing him about Josh.’
    • ‘It was quite orderly to begin with, as the feeder teased the sharks with the frozen bait.’
    • ‘‘Oh poor baby,’ Kyle mocked, waving his hand idiotically in attempt to tease me.’
    • ‘Yeah, it can even be the same red that matadors use to tease the bull to charge.’
    • ‘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.’
    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.
      • ‘When she woke up I kissed and teased her.’
      • ‘Those behind the service claim it will let mobile users ‘flirt, tantalise and tease other mobile users by anonymous text messages’.’
      • ‘His voice had all of it's previous teasing sexuality gone, only remained the voice of a dangerous man.’
      • ‘Again, she kissed him, to tease him into state of fiery desire.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Once, he teased me in class by doing sexual gestures and whatnot.’
      • ‘Inside the pearly white gates of the heaven in another world, promiscuous women teased men and had many boy friends at the same time.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2Gently pull or comb (tangled wool, hair, etc.) into separate strands.

    ‘she was teasing out the curls into her usual hairstyle’
    • ‘Chris teased the last few tangles out of his hair.’
    • ‘His gray-green eyes sparkled with laughter and mirth, as he slung an arm around Jess, his hand teasing her hair affectionately.’
    • ‘Blethyn teases a curl of her hair pensively when I ask her if she thinks she is a good actor.’
    • ‘I put my hands on the cool stone and let the gentle breeze tease my hair away from my face.’
    • ‘Insert a stake if necessary and set the plant in position, teasing out tangled roots.’
    • ‘But, however one teases out the strands, the rug remains resolutely tangled.’
    • ‘Instead, use a sterile needle or forceps to gently tease out and unfold the hair.’
    1. 2.1tease something out Find something out from a mass of irrelevant information.
      ‘a historian who tries to tease out the truth’
      • ‘‘Heckling’ then was a method of firing off questions designed to tease or comb out truths that politicians might wish to conceal or avoid.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘These metaphors can be teased out in many different settings, and they talk about race in terms that are internally consistent.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 section on the 11th September disaster and its aftermath, teases out an sometimes nuanced criticism of US foreign policy.’
      • ‘I love everything about Bruce's music as a package, but if I tease out the strands, this is what I come up with.’
      • ‘‘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 Comb (hair) in the reverse direction of its natural growth in order to make it appear fuller.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For a messy look, tease the hair on the crown of your head, adding height.’
      • ‘Her hair was teased in a messy bun on the top of her head.’
      • ‘Willy Russell's hit comedy about a hairdresser who decides there is more to life than bleaching roots and teasing frizzy perms.’
      • ‘She then teased this section and smoothed it back to meet the ponytail.’
      • ‘You spent a lot of time flicking and teasing your hair with an Afro comb at lunch time, or during class or after class.’
      • ‘Her hair was teased the way they did it about ten years ago.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Put on a skinny headband, then tease the back of the hair with pomade or hair spray.’
      • ‘She teased her long brown hair and put blue eyeliner under her sky blue eyes.’
      • ‘Lightly tease a section of hair on top, and brush sides into a ponytail.’
      • ‘Blonde hair that was teased and curled and laced with gems and chains served as a massive crown for this overbearing woman.’
      • ‘Men started to sport tight black leather pants and teasing their hair to incredible sizes.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They're probably too busy flossing, teasing their hair and singing along to Judy Garland records to be bothered.’
      • ‘I replied, undoing my ponytail and teasing my hair to make it look a bit better.’
      • ‘She had convinced me to leave my hair down, teasing it so it seemed much too big for a human being.’
      • ‘After shaping the spirals, he teased them with a comb for height and fullness.’
    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.’


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

    • ‘Being a terrible tease from way back, however, I deliberately posted here recently another quotation from Lott.’
    • ‘Ahhhhh, I love the idea of teasing Mr B. I am such a tease and I love it.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Sorry to be such a tease, but you can't predict the future.’
    • ‘Being an awful tease, I posted something there recently under the heading ‘The neocons were right!’’
    • ‘‘Commander Blair is such a tease,’ Kyle said as he checked the Peacemaker's weapon systems.’
    • ‘He's a bit of a tease, too, notes another nurse nearby.’
    • ‘Either Drudge is a tease, or I'm just too-outcast hip for my own good sometimes.’
    • ‘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.’
    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 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.’
      • ‘Clearly, she's a tease, a tramp and completely selfish.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘How should I balance enjoying the moment and being a 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But as a filmmaker, Meyer was more of a tease than the women who starred in his films.’
      • ‘It's just that Ozon is a great tease!’
      • ‘I let her know she was an incredible tease.’
      • ‘I wasn't trying to be a tease: I simply realized I wasn't comfortable going all the way with him.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This woman is obviously a flirt and a tease who is looking to get into trouble.’
      • ‘You think she's a tease.’
      • ‘Either she was blissfully innocent of being a tease or she knew what sort of effect that was likely to provoke.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Tsarina is a big tease with the guys.’
      • ‘It is guest-written by Elsie, companion to the Doctor and a big tease.’
      • ‘You're sweet, kind, and love to be a tease at times.’
    2. 1.2in singular An act of making fun of or tempting someone.
      ‘she couldn't resist a gentle tease’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘My pa, watching from the terrace above, had this gentle tease: With all your shots, those nets are going to need repairing.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Her acoustic guitar and occasional pianos chink like distant cutlery amid whispered teases and the thrill of confidences shared.’
      • ‘She meant it as a playful tease but snickers from the corner of the room made her lighthearted smile disappear.’
      • ‘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 was alive with two irresistible teases: proximity to celebre-lites and the highly intoxicating prospect of winning money!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘To make Maxim sell, they pumped up the page turning teases and never really delivered much.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Throughout his high school years in the nearby town of Bay Minette, he weathered the taunts and teases of classmates for being gay.’
      • ‘It's about television, its little tricks and teases.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was instead a facetious response to an anticipated tease in an email between friends.’
      • ‘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.’


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.