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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from fondle

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

Synonyms for fondle


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of fondle in a Sentence

a cat who enjoys being fondled by his loving owners

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about fondle

Time Traveler for fondle

Time Traveler

The first known use of fondle was in 1721

See more words from the same year

Statistics for fondle

Cite this Entry

“Fondle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for fondle


How to pronounce fondle (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on 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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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!