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 the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus