1

tousle

play
verb tou·sle \ˈtau̇-zəl, -səl\

Definition of tousle

tousled

;

tousling

play \ˈtau̇z-liŋ, ˈtau̇s-; ˈtau̇-zə-, -sə-\
  1. transitive verb
  2. :  dishevel, rumple tousled hair

tousle was our Word of the Day on 05/31/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of tousle in a Sentence

  1. She tousled the little boy's hair.

  2. his grandfather would always tousle the boy's neatly combed hair

tousle and Functional Shift

Tousle is a word that has been through what linguists call a "functional shift." That's a fancy way of saying it was originally one part of speech, then gradually came to have an additional function. Tousle started out as a verb back in the 15th century. By the late 19th century, it was also being used as a noun meaning "a tangled mass (as of hair)." Etymologists connect the word to an Old High German word meaning "to pull to pieces."

Origin and Etymology of tousle

Middle English touselen, frequentative of -tousen


2

tousle

play
noun tou·sle \ˈtau̇-zəl, sense 1 is also ˈtü-\

Definition of tousle

  1. 1 Scotland :  rough dalliance :  tussle

  2. 2 :  a tangled mass (as of hair)

First Known Use of tousle

1788


TOUSLE Defined for English Language Learners

tousle

play
verb

Definition of tousle for English Language Learners

  • : to make (someone's hair) untidy


TOUSLE Defined for Kids

tousle

play
verb tou·sle \ˈtau̇-zəl\

Definition of tousle for Students

tousled

;

tousling

  1. :  to put into disorder by rough handling She tousled my hair.



Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to counsel, recommend, or inform

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Emoji Quiz

  • emoji-the-quiz
  • What phase of the moon is this: 🌖 ?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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