I have come across a sentence with the word that I cannot quite understand in a video. Here is the sentence:

So what is exactly media literacy? We are going to talk more about this in our first episode next week, but here in the preview I will at least tease that definition.

I have looked up all the meanings of tease in a bunch of dictionaries but none fit. However, it feels it means to explain the definition. Tell me please If am right.

3 Answers 3


One of the meanings of tease is

to tantalize especially by arousing desire or curiosity often without intending to satisfy it —M-W

This meaning most often has a specifically sexual reference, and the dictionaries you consulted may define it in that sense; but in marketing and communications it is quite commonly used with non-sexual reference: to arouse interest in a product by offering a glimpse of what is offered.

That's the sense here: the preview will provide a brief explanation or example of media literacy which will be developed and defined more fully next week in the first episode.

  • 4
    I'm sure you're right about that being the intended sense. But I think it's a somewhat quirky / questionable usage - he appears to have arrived at it by reduction from something like ...in the preview I will at least tease /titillate you (the reader) with (some aspects of) that definition. But the object of tease should be the person being aroused or toyed with, not the thing being used to achieve this effect. Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 16:33
  • 8
    @FumbleFingers This sense of tease is used often with information or content as the object, not the audience (reader/listener/etc.) One place you can hear tease used like this is when discussing the live performance of jam bands. Often, such a band will play tiny snippets of music but not play the whole song. Playing those snippets is called "teasing [name of song]". For example, "Did you see Phish at Merriweather? They teased both 'Down With Disease' and 'Born Under A Bad Sign'". Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 18:22
  • 1
    I too find it an odd usage - as a native speaker I would not use it and find it at best quirky and not a little annoying to read. I realise what must be meant, but in a strict sense I wouldn't accept is as grammatical in my own dialect. Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 22:05
  • @Todd: Judging by all those upvotes for your comment (7, as I write), this seems to be a pretty well-known usage. But I must admit I've never consciously noticed it myself, and I can't find any online definitions for it. Can you? Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 16:09

I think this could be considered industry jargon, which is why you may have had trouble finding a suitable dictionary definition. Consider these quotes:

Getting listeners to keep their radios tuned to your entire newscast...that's the function of leads and teases. (Source: Leads & Teases at newscript.com)

A teaser is a television strategy for attracting the audience's attention and holding it over a span of time. There are two types of news teasers. The first is best described as a headline, which contains the essential information about a story. The second type of teaser is more vague and leaves the reader wondering what exactly the news is about to report. Source: Teasers at museum.tv).

Ask most TV news producers about writing teases and you might see their eyes roll and hear them groan. That's because teases are an essential part of producing a compelling newscast, yet many producers hate doing them ... because tease writing has less to do with pure journalism and has more in common with TV commercials. So producers who aren't properly trained aren't very good at teases. (Source: Glenn Halbrooks, The Balance)

So, in broadcasting, a "tease" (noun) is something said by a host to help prevent the audience from going somewhere else on the TV or radio during a commercial break, and to "tease" something (verb) means to do that for this purpose.

  • Note that in all those uses there is no hint that "tease" would have as its object the instrument of the teasing. I don't dispute that there might be jargon usage in which tease has as its object the instrument, but none of the quotations you cite illustrate that. Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 22:08
  • @FrancisDavey - I listen to a lot of sports talk radio shows while commuting, and often here the hosts joking around with each other about their teases. For that reason, and for that reason alone, the quote in the OP's video doesn't strike me as all that strange. However, it might be quite challenging to find similar written instances of that kind of usage.
    – J.R.
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 22:56

It's quite possible the author of that meant tease as in tantalize, or a teaser, but on reading it, I think another definition fits. That would be (from Oxford dictionary)

(tease something out) Find something out from a mass of irrelevant information.

This is related to the definition of tease that means to disentangle/separate something (such as wool) into its separate strands.

Interpreted this way, in the quote you give, the author is saying that in the preview, they will be pulling out some strands of the definition of "media literacy".

Here is a similar usage to your quote: The Denver Post

To complicate matters, as well as tease the definition of ghost, Ting-yin’s former love (Lawrence Chow) arrives.

(there is an actual apparition mentioned, but the former love is also a sort of ghost, pulling out another strand of the definition of "ghost")

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .