In the sentence: Her head was in his lap, and he was playing with her hair.

Given that what the verb really defines is him brushing her hair with his hand or stroking it gently, is there a better way to express that ?


I don't think you can use one word to say "play with someone's hair", but I think the verb "to caress" does a better job of expressing the idea of him lovingly stroking her hair:

Her head was in his lap, and he was caressing her hair.


caress: to touch someone gently in a way that shows you love them


  • Thanks a lot. I don't know how I missed this ! – Ragheb AlKilany Nov 9 '15 at 9:14
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    You are welcome, Ragheb. Glad it worked for you. – A.P. Nov 9 '15 at 9:22

Consider, fondle.

: to handle, stroke or touch lovingly AHD

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    @RaghebAlKilany You're welcome, Raghreb. – Elian Nov 9 '15 at 9:31

The word cafuné in Brazilian Portuguese is literally "the act of fondling someone's hair". It's considered untranslatable to English, thus could be a loanword or borrowed word.


To "tousle someone's hair" is to play with someone's hair...

  • Nice idea! BUT, the OED defines tousle as "To pull about roughly; to handle (esp. a woman) rudely or indelicately; to disorder, dishevel (the hair, clothes, etc.)' – Dan Mar 12 at 23:27

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