To tease is to pick on someone or to give false hope. You can tease your little sister by saying "nanny nanny boo boo" or by holding a cookie just out of her reach.

Tease, a modern spelling of the Old English taesan “pluck, pull apart" is now associated with the act of harassing. You can still use tease as a verb, though, to describe the act of backcombing your hair to give it volume. But more commonly, tease refers to messing with someone. There’s an old proverb, “Patience when teased is often transformed into rage,” which means if you tease someone a lot, you might get your booty kicked!

Primary Meanings of tease

mock or make fun of playfully
the act of harassing someone playfully or maliciously (especially by ridicule); provoking someone with persistent annoyances
tear into pieces
disentangle and raise the fibers of
Full Definitions of tease

v mock or make fun of playfully

“the flirting man teased the young woman”
Type of:
blackguard, guy, jest at, laugh at, make fun, poke fun, rib, ridicule, roast
subject to laughter or ridicule

v annoy persistently

“The children teased the boy because of his stammer”
badger, beleaguer, bug, pester
Type of:
bedevil, crucify, dun, frustrate, rag, torment
treat cruelly

v harass with persistent criticism or carping

“The children teased the new teacher”
bait, cod, rag, rally, razz, ride, tantalise, tantalize, taunt, twit
barrack, flout, gibe, jeer, scoff
laugh at with contempt and derision
banter, chaff, jolly, josh, kid
be silly or tease one another
Type of:
bemock, mock
treat with contempt

v arouse hope, desire, or curiosity without satisfying them

“The advertisement is intended to tease the customers”
“She has a way of teasing men with her flirtatious behavior”
Type of:
control, keep in line, manipulate
control (others or oneself) or influence skillfully, usually to one's advantage

n the act of harassing someone playfully or maliciously (especially by ridicule); provoking someone with persistent annoyances

“he ignored their teases
ribbing, tantalization, teasing
Type of:
harassment, molestation
the act of tormenting by continued persistent attacks and criticism

n someone given to teasing (as by mocking or stirring curiosity)

annoyer, teaser, vexer
Type of:
persona non grata, unwelcome person
a person who for some reason is not wanted or welcome

n a flirt who excites desire but does not intend to satisfy it

coquette, flirt, minx, vamp, vamper
Type of:
adult female, woman
an adult female person (as opposed to a man)

v tear into pieces

tease tissue for microscopic examinations”
Type of:
rip up, shred, tear up
tear into shreds

v disentangle and raise the fibers of

tease wool”
loosen, tease apart
Type of:
disentangle, straighten out, unsnarl
extricate from entanglement

v separate the fibers of

tease wool”
Type of:
divide into components or constituents

v raise the nap of (fabrics)

Type of:
change surface
undergo or cause to undergo a change in the surface

v ruffle (one's hair) by combing the ends towards the scalp, for a full effect

Type of:
comb, comb out, disentangle
smoothen and neaten with or as with a comb

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