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