fon·​dle | \ ˈfän-dᵊl How to pronounce fondle (audio) \
fondled; fondling\ ˈfän-​(d)liŋ How to pronounce fondling (audio) , -​dᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of fondle

transitive verb

1 : to handle tenderly, lovingly, or lingeringly : caress She fondled the string of pearls.
2a obsolete : pamper
b : to touch (someone or something) sexually … one of them fondled her neck.— Nadine Gordimer Not long ago, the New York Police Department investigated a dentist accused of fondling his patients after putting them under anesthesia.— Donna McCrohan

intransitive verb

: to show affection or desire by caressing

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Other Words from fondle

fondler \ ˈfän-​(d)lər How to pronounce fondler (audio) , -​dᵊl-​ər \ noun

Synonyms for fondle


caress, gentle, love, pat, pet, stroke

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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

At a Nantucket bar, the man had been talking with Spacey, who bought him a number of drinks and, according to the accuser, pulled down the man’s zipper and started fondling him. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Kevin Spacey Is Not Vindicated," 18 July 2019 According to the complaint, a woman with a membership to Massage Envy said that during a massage at the Daly City location, the male massage therapist touched her vaginal area and groped and fondled her breasts. Lauren Hernández,, "Four women sue, saying they were sexually assaulted at massage firm’s outlets," 19 July 2019 Vance said Bailey groped and fondled him that night. Ashley Remkus |,, "Former Alabama private school teacher won’t be charged in decades-old sex abuse allegations," 24 June 2019 Spacey then allegedly unzipped the man’s pants and fondled him. Matt Rocheleau,, "Nantucket judge orders Kevin Spacey accuser’s father to explain missing cellphone in sex assault case," 21 June 2019 The charging documents said Barto used his bare fingers to digitally penetrate girls and fondle the genitals of boys. Mark Scolforo, Fox News, "Police: Doctor molested over 2 dozen children over the years," 31 July 2018 Police on Friday released photos of a man suspected of forcibly fondling a woman at an apartment complex near UNC Charlotte. Joe Marusak, charlotteobserver, "Police say man shown in photo fondled woman near UNCC," 9 Feb. 2018 Derek Achenbach was going through a divorce in January 2017 when a 14-year-old girl accused him of fondling her more than a year before on two occasions. Michael Kiefer, azcentral, "Appeals Court rules Arizona judges can refer to 'alleged' victims," 25 May 2018 Authorities say Magaz Negrete kissed and fondled the girl in her bedroom on June 27 in an encounter witnessed by the girl's 16-year-old roommate. Fox News, "Documents: Youth care worker sexually abused immigrant boys," 3 Aug. 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.

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First Known Use of fondle

1721, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for fondle

frequentative of obsolete fond to fondle

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Statistics for fondle

Last Updated

15 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fondle

The first known use of fondle was in 1721

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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 How to pronounce fondle (audio) \
fondled; fondling

Kids Definition of fondle

: to touch or handle in a tender or loving manner

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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).


to move or obtain by small maneuvers

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