Printable Version
Pronunciation: kê-res Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, noun

Meaning: To fondle affectionately, to gently brush lovingly.

Notes: This word has two adjectives, one active, caressive "resembling caressing", one passive, caressable "that may be caressed". You may also spell the latter caressible. This verb may be used as a countable noun (caresses) and the present participle, caressing, may be used as an active adjective or action noun.

In Play: The literal sense of caress is usually restricted to people we love: "As he proposed to her, he faintly caressed her cheek with the backs of his fingers." However, this word may also be used figuratively: "As Madeleine watched the sun slowly recede beyond the horizon, the merest breeze caressed her face."

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from French caresse, inherited from Latin carus "dear, precious, beloved", the Latin rendition of Proto-Indo-European karo- "to like, wish". Old French changed the C to CH in its creation of charité "mercy, compassion", which English borrowed as charity. (The same change occurred in Latin castellus "castle" becoming château in the hands of the French.) English care came from its Germanic ancestors rendition of karo-, karo "care, sorrow, cry", as in Icelandic kör "sickbed" and German Karfreitag "Good Friday". In the Celtic languages it became caru "to love, court" in Breton and cariad "love" in Welsh. In Sanskrit it turned into caru "pleasant, welcome, sweet".

Dr. Goodword,

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