an act or gesture expressing affection, as an embrace or kiss, especially a light stroking or touching.
to touch or pat gently to show affection.
to touch, stroke, etc., lightly, as if in affection:
The breeze caressed the trees.
to treat with favor, kindness, etc.
Contemporary Examples

Christine is very flirtatious, giggling, caressing, and locking eyes with her ambitious underling.
Rachel McAdams Returns to ‘Mean Girls’ Roots With Kinky Bisexual Role in ‘Passion’ Marlow Stern October 12, 2012

Historical Examples

She drew nearer to me, and in a caressing child-like way, lifted up her mouth to be kissed, as she said: ‘Welcome to Fairview.’
Chambers’s Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art Various

caressing her, he noticed that her face was covered with a cold perspiration.
Dona Perfecta B. Perez Galdos

It flung a soft, caressing radiance on its shabby home, and on its mistress, and on the other girls and boys.
Nights in London Thomas Burke

There was something feminine, caressing and soft in his farewell words and bow.
Foma Gordyeff Maxim Gorky

Then after a moment she put out her hand with a caressing little gesture.
The Mystery of a Turkish Bath E.M. Gollan (AKA Rita)

Suddenly she felt on one of her hands a light, caressing touch.
The Dead Command Vicente Blasco Ibez

One might have felt the brilliancy of his eyes as hard had not their blue been so caressing.
Paths of Judgement Anne Douglas Sedgwick

The voice was sweet and caressing, but those eyes seemed to devour her!
The Dead Command Vicente Blasco Ibez

I have not even the joy of caressing a child that would have consoled me.
His Excellency the Minister Jules Claretie

a gentle touch or embrace, esp one given to show affection
(transitive) to touch or stroke gently with affection or as with affection: the wind caressed her face

1640s, “show of endearment, display of regard,” from French caresse (16c.), back-formation from caresser or else from Italian carezza “endearment,” from caro “dear,” from Latin carus “dear, costly, beloved” (see whore (n.)). Meaning “affectionate stroke” attested in English from 1650s.

1650s, from French caresser, from Italian carezzare “to cherish,” from carezza “endearment” (see caress (n.)). Related: Caressed; caressing.


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  • Carew

    Thomas, 1598?–1639? English poet. a male given name. Historical Examples Happy to meet you again, Mr. Carew; I trust you don’t forget me.’ Sir Jasper Carew Charles James Lever Captain Carew put his hand in his pocket, and shook his head. An Australian Lassie Lilian Turner Carew’s experiences on Trinidad produced an ineffaceable impression on […]

  • Careware

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