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!

Definitions of tease
  1. verb
    mock or make fun of playfully
    see moresee less
    type of:
    blackguard, guy, jest at, laugh at, make fun, poke fun, rib, ridicule, roast
    subject to laughter or ridicule
  2. verb
    annoy persistently
    synonyms: badger, beleaguer, bug, pester
    see moresee less
    type of:
    bedevil, crucify, dun, frustrate, rag, torment
    treat cruelly
  3. verb
    harass with persistent criticism or carping
    “The children teased the new teacher”
    synonyms: bait, cod, rag, rally, razz, ride, tantalise, tantalize, taunt, twit
    see moresee less
    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
  4. verb
    arouse hope, desire, or curiosity without satisfying them
    “The advertisement is intended to tease the customers”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    control, keep in line, manipulate
    control (others or oneself) or influence skillfully, usually to one's advantage
  5. noun
    the act of harassing someone playfully or maliciously (especially by ridicule); provoking someone with persistent annoyances
    “he ignored their teases
    synonyms: ribbing, tantalization, teasing
    see moresee less
    type of:
    harassment, molestation
    the act of tormenting by continued persistent attacks and criticism
  6. noun
    someone given to teasing (as by mocking or stirring curiosity)
    synonyms: annoyer, teaser, vexer
    see moresee less
    type of:
    persona non grata, unwelcome person
    a person who for some reason is not wanted or welcome
  7. noun
    a flirt who excites desire but does not intend to satisfy it
    synonyms: coquette, flirt, minx, vamp, vamper
    see moresee less
    type of:
    adult female, woman
    an adult female person (as opposed to a man)
  8. verb
    tear into pieces
    tease tissue for microscopic examinations”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    rip up, shred, tear up
    tear into shreds
  9. verb
    disentangle and raise the fibers of
    tease wool”
    synonyms: loosen, tease apart
    see moresee less
    type of:
    disentangle, straighten out, unsnarl
    extricate from entanglement
  10. verb
    separate the fibers of
    tease wool”
    synonyms: card
    see moresee less
    type of:
    divide into components or constituents
  11. verb
    raise the nap of (fabrics)
    see moresee less
    type of:
    change surface
    undergo or cause to undergo a change in the surface
  12. verb
    ruffle (one's hair) by combing the ends towards the scalp, for a full effect
    synonyms: fluff
    see moresee less
    type of:
    comb, comb out, disentangle
    smoothen and neaten with or as with a comb
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week