- an act or gesture expressing affection, as an embrace or kiss, especially a light stroking or touching.
verb (used with object)
- 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.
- a gentle touch or embrace, esp one given to show affection
- (tr) to touch or stroke gently with affection or as with affectionthe 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.