1

tousle

verb tou·sle \ ˈtau̇-zəl , -səl \
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of tousle

tousled; tousling play \ˈtau̇z-liŋ, ˈtau̇s-; ˈtau̇-zə-, -sə-\
transitive verb
: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

Recent Examples of tousle from the Web

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.

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

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

Definition of tousle

1 Scotland :rough dalliance :tussle
2 :a tangled mass (as of hair)

Recent Examples of tousle from the Web

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.

First Known Use of tousle

1788


TOUSLE Defined for English Language Learners

tousle

verb

Definition of tousle for English Language Learners

  • : to make (someone's hair) untidy


TOUSLE Defined for Kids

tousle

verb tou·sle \ ˈtau̇-zəl \

Definition of tousle for Students

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


Seen and Heard

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