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A gentle touch or gesture of fondness, tenderness, or love.
tr.v. ca·ressed, ca·ress·ing, ca·ress·es
1. To touch or stroke in an affectionate or loving manner.
2. To touch or move as if with a caress: soft music that caressed the ears.

[French caresse, from Italian carezza, from caro, dear, from Latin cārus; see kā- in Indo-European roots.]

ca·ress′er n.
ca·ress′ing·ly adv.
ca·res′sive adj.
Synonyms: caress, cuddle, fondle, pat1, pet1, stroke2
These verbs mean to touch or handle affectionately: caressed the sleeping baby; cuddled the kitten in her arms; fondling the dog's ears; patted the child's head; petting his pony; gently stroked the patient's hand.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.caressing - affectionate play (or foreplay without contact with the genital organs)caressing - affectionate play (or foreplay without contact with the genital organs)
foreplay, stimulation, arousal - mutual sexual fondling prior to sexual intercourse
snogging - (British informal) cuddle and kiss
References in classic literature ?
Here and there went his hands, caressing the shoulders of the boys, playing about the tousled heads.
Those formal phrases, the very flower of small-town proprieties, and the flat commonplaces, nearly all hypocritical in their origin, became very funny, very engaging, when they were uttered in Lena's soft voice, with her caressing intonation and arch naivete.
Instead of gaily denouncing and caressing me, they made no allusion to my having failed them, and I was left, for the time, on perceiving that she too said nothing, to study Mrs.
You would think no harm in a child's caressing a large dog, even if he was black; but a creature that can think, and reason, and feel, and is immortal, you shudder at; confess it, cousin.
He was basking in the love of relatives and friends whom he had not seen for fifty years; and about him and caressing him were also descendants of his own body whom he had never seen at all till now; but to him these were all strangers, his memory was gone, his mind was stag- nant.
The ordinary chalet turns a broad, honest gable end to the road, and its ample roof hovers over the home in a protecting, caressing way, projecting its sheltering eaves far outward.
It seemed to him that life was but a trouble, at best, and he more than half envied Jimmy Hodges, so lately released; it must be very peaceful, he thought, to lie and slumber and dream forever and ever, with the wind whispering through the trees and caressing the grass and the flowers over the grave, and nothing to bother and grieve about, ever any more.
The diplomas had been presented, and each girl, after giving furtive touches to her hair, sly tweaks to her muslin skirts, and caressing pats to her sash, had gone forward to receive the roll of parchment with a bow that had been the subject of anxious thought for weeks.
And here is my sweet little Annamaria," she added, tenderly caressing a little girl of three years old, who had not made a noise for the last two minutes; "And she is always so gentle and quiet--Never was there such a quiet little thing
As he stood, mute and grave, she again fell to caressing Carlo.
The girl's fervid temp erament intensified the essentially feminine pleasure that most women feel in the passage of the comb through their hair, to a luxury of sensation which absorbed her in enjoyment, so serenely self-demonstrative, so drowsily deep that it did irresistibly suggest a pet cat's enjoyment under a caressing hand.
She kissed the boy, and said, caressing him, `It is for thine own dear sake.