tousle

verb
tou·sle | \ˈtau̇-zəl, -səl\
tousled; tousling\ˈtau̇z-liŋ, ˈtau̇s-; ˈtau̇-zə-, -sə- \

Definition of tousle 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: dishevel, rumple tousled hair

tousle

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

Definition of tousle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 Scotland : rough dalliance : tussle

2 : a tangled mass (as of hair)

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Tousle and Functional Shift

Verb

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."

Examples of tousle in a Sentence

Verb

She tousled the little boy's hair. his grandfather would always tousle the boy's neatly combed hair

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Then, yes, dude was snubbed, even after going on an apology tour for tousling Donald Trump’s hair. Glenn Whipp, latimes.com, "Emmy snubs and surprises: New faces are in, old institutions are out and Sandra Oh makes history," 12 July 2018 With wet tousled hair, and wearing dramatic makeup, Hadid gave the world a closeup of her brand new hairstyle. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Gigi Hadid Just Got the Cutest Bangs, and She Looks So Different," 26 May 2018 Cane sugar and salt work in harmony to create naturally tousled texture for perfect festival hair, $25. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "How to look cool when it's hot: Your expert style guide for Forecastle," 5 July 2018 As pictured by Day, Moss was a force of nature: a gust of April wind that lifts your skirt and tousles your hair. Waldemar Januszczak, A-LIST, "Kate Moss: The Golden Girl," 1 July 2018 At the time, Fallon didn't think tousling Trump's hair was a big deal. Emily Yahr, chicagotribune.com, "Jimmy Fallon responds to Trump's tweet: 'I've never called this human in my life'," 26 June 2018 At the time, Fallon didn’t think tousling Trump’s hair was a big deal. Emily Yahr, The Seattle Times, "Jimmy Fallon responds to Trump’s tweet: ‘I’ve never called this human in my life’," 26 June 2018 Harry looks like his usual rocker self in a ringer tee, tousled hair, and lots of rings. Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, "Ansel Elgort Says Harry Styles Is "So Beautiful"," 25 June 2018 For an easy, breezy effect, simply mist a light texturizing spray like Bumble and bumble's Dryspun Thickening Spray through your bangs and tousle them as desired with your fingers. Zoë Weiner, Teen Vogue, "Bella Hadid Gets Sideswept Bangs for Summer," 21 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

And while the iconic all-American hairstyle is most often worn in a textured, post-gym tousle and paired with Yeezy athleisure, Depp's front row incarnation took the look firmly into couture territory like only a local can. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "At Chanel, Lily-Rose Depp Gives a Lesson in the French vs. American Ponytail," 3 July 2018 One look at Bieber’s bedhead hair over the past several days said everything, courtesy of a messy tousle that read like a cry for help. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "What Justin Bieber’s Hair Can Tell Us About His Breakup with Selena Gomez," 9 Mar. 2018 Keeping a step ahead of melodrama is a convincing cast, energetically led by the tousle-haired young Khattar, whose noteworthy screen charisma promises well for his future career. Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Beyond the Clouds' ('Ansooy-e Abrha'): Film Review," 22 Jan. 2018 His thick russet thatches exist in a state of perpetual tousle, as though magnetized by the invisible energy of some faraway Tesla coil. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Can This Man Build a Better Bitcoin?," 18 Dec. 2017 Then there’s the true trademark: louche bedhead waves that recall the designer’s own trademark tousle, seen flying through the air behind him at the end of each show. Monica Kim, Vogue, "8 Supercharged Beauty Trends That Took Off at Alexander Wang," 9 Sep. 2017 The tousle-haired musician is 47 and married with two kids, but his age doesn’t show. Chris Martins, Los Angeles Magazine, "The L.A./Icon Interview: Beck," 17 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tousle.' 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 tousle

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun

1788, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tousle

Verb

Middle English touselen, frequentative of -tousen

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Time Traveler for tousle

The first known use of tousle was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for tousle

tousle

verb

English Language Learners Definition of tousle

: to make (someone's hair) untidy

tousle

verb
tou·sle | \ˈtau̇-zəl \
tousled; tousling

Kids Definition of tousle

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

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