Also found in: Thesaurus.


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.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


resembling a caress or tending to caress
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
References in periodicals archive ?
Non-English languages retain some of the associations with overbearing personal control they had in Sons and Lovers; Hermione even uses Italian to cajole her (male) cat: "'Vieni--vieni qua' [Come--come here], Hermione was saying, in her strange caressive, protective voice, as if she were always the elder, the mother superior" (299).
Finally, when Maggie is said to address Joey in "an odd, saturnine caressive voice" (80), the unusual choice of adjective may remind readers that Ovid, like Virgil, refers to Juno on occasion as "Saturnia," i.e., daughter of Saturn.
From this point of view, Levertov's sometimes precious attributions--"my clear caressive sight, my poet's sight" ("Advent 1966")--or her implicit claim of access to the authentic--opening a poem with her own annunciation, "The authentic!" ("Matins")--must have been anathema.
Eating and imbibing, for instance, imbue "Songs to Joannes"; as already noted, Loy refers to "laughing honey," and "the milk of the Moon." (41) But in her later work, Loy begins to replace discussions of consummation with an emphasis on consumption, a process arguably foreshadowed in poem twenty-nine of "Songs." Here Loy begins with an apostrophe to "Evolution," and then goes on to contemplate the future development of male and female, advising her muse to: Give them some way of braying brassily For caressive calling Or to homophonous hiccoughs Transpose the laugh Let them suppose that tears Are snowdrops or molasses Or anything Than human insufficiencies Begging dorsal vertebrae.