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ca·​ress kə-ˈres How to pronounce caress (audio)
caressed; caressing; caresses

transitive verb

: to treat with tokens of fondness, affection, or kindness : cherish
the regiment was fed and caressed at station after stationStephen Crane
: to touch or stroke lightly in a loving or endearing manner
She caressed the baby's cheek.
: to touch or affect as if with a caress
echoes that caress the ear
caresser noun
caressingly adverb


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: an act or expression of kindness or affection : endearment
when the gifts and caresses of mankind shall recompense the toils of studySamuel Johnson
: a light stroking, rubbing, or patting
a gentle caress of her shoulder
: kiss
She gave him a parting caress.
caressive adjective
caressively adverb

Example Sentences

Verb She caressed the baby's cheek. A warm breeze caressed her face. Noun She gave the baby's cheek a gentle caress.
Recent Examples on the Web
Drawing on such techniques, Mr. Beck could weaponize his strings to hit like a stun gun or caress them to express what felt like a kiss. Jim Farber, New York Times, 11 Jan. 2023 Drawing on such techniques, Mr. Beck could weaponize his strings to hit like a stun gun or caress them to express what felt like a kiss. Jim Farber,, 11 Jan. 2023 The Daintree River ferry embarks from the southern bank, where spidery coral fingers of the Great Barrier Reef almost caress the shore. Linda Marsa, Discover Magazine, 25 Mar. 2012 Most pawpaws stay green throughout their life cycle, which means growers must gently caress each one to gauge its softness and willingness to release from the branch—no small task when each fruit on a tree matures at different times. Yasmin Tayag, The Atlantic, 4 Oct. 2022 Candles atop broad tables bathe the room in soft light, and gold chairs practically caress their occupants. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, 5 Aug. 2022 Her pieces, like her glove bralettes, literally caress you. Christian Allaire, Vogue, 1 Mar. 2022 For me, the camera must tell the story for the characters; love them, caress them without the viewer perceiving other stylistic details. Emilio Mayorga, Variety, 15 Feb. 2022 Two fingers caress the unruly neck hair of the skinned goat whose elongated snout sports a bemused expression. William A. Wallace, WSJ, 28 Jan. 2022
And remember — sláinte! May the Irish hills caress you. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, 13 Jan. 2023 But don't expect to feel the caress of the lunar wind, as its atmosphere is roughly equivalent to what's found near the International Space Station in orbit around the Earth. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, 6 Oct. 2017 But the Day-Glo hues all caress and smack and seduce the eye. Washington Post, 28 Dec. 2022 Generally softer-topped, lower, and less craggy than the European Alps, the Sunnmøre Alps are a miracle of the Ice Age, when the glaciers' rough caress crafted mountains and crags that loom over fjords running thousands of feet deep. Toby Skinner, Condé Nast Traveler, 9 Dec. 2022 Sometimes there’s nothing more comforting than loved one’s caress. Seriously Science, Discover Magazine, 22 Feb. 2016 When writing clandestine trysts, Lawrence detailed every motion, thrust, and caress with relish. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 3 Dec. 2022 Part of why this is so striking is that Drake has made a career out of caress. New York Times, 19 June 2022 About 30 minutes into her JetBlue flight from Los Angeles to Boston on Monday night, a mother taking care of her baby felt someone caress her upper thigh. Julian Mark, Washington Post, 2 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'caress.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History



French caresser, from Italian carezzare, from carezza — see caress entry 2


French caresse, from Italian carezza, from caro dear, from Latin carus — more at charity

First Known Use


1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1609, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of caress was in 1598

Dictionary Entries Near caress

Cite this Entry

“Caress.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a tender or loving touch or hug
: a light stroking, rubbing, or patting
caress verb

More from Merriam-Webster on caress

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