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[kuh-res] /kəˈrɛs/
an act or gesture expressing affection, as an embrace or kiss, especially a light stroking or touching.
verb (used with object)
to touch or pat gently to show affection.
to touch, stroke, etc., lightly, as if in affection:
The breeze caressed the trees.
to treat with favor, kindness, etc.
Origin of caress
1605-15; < French caresse < Italian carezza < Vulgar Latin *caritia, equivalent to Latin cār(us) dear + -itia suffix of abstract nouns; cf. charity
Related forms
caressable, adjective
caresser, noun
caressingly, adverb
uncaressed, adjective
uncaressing, adjective
uncaressingly, adverb
1. pat, fondling, hug. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for caress
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He could not console her with a kiss and a caress, and a bonbon, of course.

    The Road to Understanding Eleanor H. Porter
  • Men in his condition were apt to be as quick with a blow as with a caress.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • The day was pure, exquisite in its waning beauty; the breeze as light and soft as a caress.

    The Light of Scarthey Egerton Castle
  • A word of consolation, a caress, even from her mother, would have distressed her.

    The Dream Emile Zola
  • Naturally she turned to caress the poetic while she had it beside her.

  • She was not conscious—how could she be and not shrink from my caress?

    Green Mansions W. H. Hudson
British Dictionary definitions for caress


a gentle touch or embrace, esp one given to show affection
(transitive) to touch or stroke gently with affection or as with affection: the wind caressed her face
Derived Forms
caresser, noun
caressingly, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from French caresse, from Italian carezza, from Latin cārus dear
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
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Word Origin and History for caress

1640s, "show of endearment, display of regard," from French caresse (16c.), back-formation from caresser or else from Italian carezza "endearment," from caro "dear," from Latin carus "dear, costly, beloved" (see whore (n.)). Meaning "affectionate stroke" attested in English from 1650s.


1650s, from French caresser, from Italian carezzare "to cherish," from carezza "endearment" (see caress (n.)). Related: Caressed; caressing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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