fon·​dle | \ ˈfän-dᵊl \
fondled; fondling\ ˈfän-​(d)liŋ , -​dᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of fondle

transitive verb

1 obsolete : pamper
2 : to handle tenderly, lovingly, or lingeringly : caress She fondled the string of pearls.

intransitive verb

: to show affection or desire by caressing

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from fondle

fondler \ ˈfän-​(d)lər , -​dᵊl-​ər \ noun

Synonyms for fondle


caress, gentle, love, pat, pet, stroke

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of fondle in a Sentence

She claims that her boss tried to fondle her at the office Christmas party. a cat who enjoys being fondled by his loving owners

Recent Examples on the Web

During their first meeting, Nassar fondled her breasts while a cameraman filmed, Davis said in the suit. Jessica Taylor Price, Teen Vogue, "New Lawsuit Alleges Larry Nassar Raped a Student Athlete in 1992," 12 Sep. 2018 The university in April announced that independent investigators were looking into allegations that Strauss fondled and groped male athletes during physical examinations and medical treatment. Kantele Franko, The Seattle Times, "Lawsuit, ex-student focus on complaints about Ohio State doc," 17 July 2018 About half a dozen former Ohio State wrestlers say Jordan had to have known young men were complaining about being fondled by the team doctor in the 1990s, when Jordan was an assistant coach. Tara Golshan, Vox, "Jim Jordan’s allies are questioning the premise of the Ohio State sexual abuse allegations," 13 July 2018 According to the report, the girl, who is under 16, claims Rylett touched her breasts and fondled her while repeatedly making her undress, eventually attempting to forcefully remove her underwear. Bijan Stephen, The Verge, "The co-founder of a prominent tween girl YouTube network has been arrested for molesting a minor," 24 Sep. 2018 The safety plan, however, did not prevent the same child from hitting and fondling D.L. again, an incident her father was informed of on June 22. Jen Kirby, Vox, "A 6-year-old separated from her mother was reportedly abused in an immigrant shelter," 28 July 2018 After the friend left, the boy allegedly pinned the girl to the ground, fondled her breasts and rubbed his genitals against her, documents state. Debbie Truong, Washington Post, "Teen says Virginia school failed to keep her safe from alleged attacker," 18 June 2018 According to the lawsuit, Gousman was lying on her back when the masseuse fondled her bare breasts. Annie Sweeney,, "Woman sues Ritz-Carlton, alleges she was sexually assaulted by masseuse," 30 May 2018 The Marietta man allegedly walked around the Kohl’s for 10 minutes fondling himself and then again for 15 minutes. Ben Brasch, ajc, "Crimes of Cobb: Two dogs left inside 120-degree trailer without water," 6 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of fondle

1694, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for fondle

frequentative of obsolete fond to fondle

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about fondle

Statistics for fondle

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fondle

The first known use of fondle was in 1694

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for fondle



English Language Learners Definition of fondle

: to touch or handle (something) in a gentle way
: to touch (someone) in a sexual way


fon·​dle | \ ˈfän-dᵊl \
fondled; fondling

Kids Definition of fondle

: to touch or handle in a tender or loving manner

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on fondle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fondle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fondle

Spanish Central: Translation of fondle

Nglish: Translation of fondle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fondle for Arabic Speakers

Comments on fondle

What made you want to look up fondle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


marked by fawning attentiveness

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!