1

What does "tease" mean in football (soccer) context?

36 min: Barnes teases Alexander-Arnold down the left. He works enough space to chip a cross into the centre. Henderson can’t reach it, and it falls towards Vardy, who tries to steer a downward header into the bottom right, but sends it straight into Alisson’s arms. Great chance!

1 Answer 1

1

It's essentially derived from the sexual sense of "tease" (familiar to many in the rather coarse term prick-teaser - a woman who tries to make a man sexually excited but does not intend to have sex with him). Also familiar, rather less coarsely, in striptease.

The sports commentator is saying that Barnes is tempting Alexander-Arnold to play "down the left". Perhaps by leaving some open space there on the wing (that Barnes is responsible for "guarding"), because Barnes knows that he can run faster than Alexander-Arnold - so if the latter tries to make a run down that wing, Barnes will easily be able to catch him up and prevent him setting up a chance to score.


EDIT: Or it could be tease in the sense of taunt (insult, jeer at, make fun of, ridicule). If Barnes is a much better player than Alexander-Arnold (something I know nothing about), the intended sense might simply be that Barnes "runs rings around" his less agile opponent. Which of these two meanings applies would be more obvious to readers with more in-depth knowledge of the players.

I don't think there's any implied allusion to tease = gently pull or comb (tangled wool, hair, etc.) into separate strands in OP'd exact example. But in principle I could accept Barnes teased the ball through the defenders as meaning he "dribbled / nursed" the ball in a relatively straight path through / past several opposing players.

5
  • 1
    I don't think the first meaning is inherently sexual - you could tease eg. a child by pretending you're going to get them ice-cream and then not doing it. I do think it's the applicable one - A-A is being provoked with something he wants (presumably ball posession). Mar 10, 2021 at 15:04
  • In retrospect I should probably have referenced striptease rather than prick/cock-teaser, but whereas I'm perfectly familiar with your example usage, I don't accept that as being one of the "primary" senses. You probably don't have access to the full (subscription-only) Oxford English Dictionary (I get it through my UK public library membership), but I can assure you that although they have the definition to bother or plague in a petty way, there's no mention anywhere on the relevant page about "offering but not giving" except in the (well-defined) sexual context. Mar 10, 2021 at 15:23
  • 2
    Cambridge: "to intentionally annoy a person or animal by saying something that is not true or pretending to do something, often in a playful way". I think the sexual usage is derivative from that "pretending" aspect, given that it's rather young, but I have no source for that. Mar 10, 2021 at 15:27
  • Should be more along the lines of teasing a cat with a bit of string, or teasing a fish with a lure. The idea will be to get the other player to follow the ball in a misleading direction.
    – puppetsock
    Mar 10, 2021 at 15:32
  • 1
    @MaciejStachowski: I think few people would disagree with me when I say that the full OED is "more authoritative" than Cambridge Dictionary (or indeed any other English dictionary; it's head-and-shoulders above the rest). I'm not saying "tease = pretend to offer but actually withhold" isn't used in the general sense - obviously it is. But what I am saying is the full OED doesn't explicitly give that "extended, general" sense. And that's because it's idiomatically derived from the sexual one, not the other way around. And of course, I think I do have a source (the OED! :) Mar 10, 2021 at 15:39

You must log in to answer this question.

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