Is there any difference between "teasing" and "kidding"?

  • They're synonyms, but I would say that teasing is a form of kidding taken to a more advanced degree. Kidding is probably a bit more playful. Both can be hostile, though.
    – Robusto
    Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 21:47
  • Do note that "teasing" is used with other meanings, and those meanings can sort of metaphorically amplify the basic meaning.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 21:56
  • 3
    In some zoos, there are boards saying 'don't tease animals'. I am sure, one can't replace the former with the latter.
    – Ram Pillai
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 0:34

2 Answers 2



Kidding, strictly an informal or vernacular term, usually describes someone giving a statement, in friendly interaction, that has a literal meaning in contrast to his actual beliefs, as in the sense of an ironic or deceptive joke.

(The term does not indicate being deceitful as someone would find seriously harmful, only at most causing moderate discomfort.)

The other response correctly explains that to kid is rarely used in any form other than progressive, as above, though rarely some will say "I kid" for affectation. Also, have never encountered the term in a simple past form. Neither "earlier I kid you" or "earlier I kidded you" would be acceptable.

Teasing, equally suitable for formal and informal language, describes statements or actions, also in friendly interaction, that deliberately make another temporarily feel slight discomfort or confusion, in order to promote friendship and bonding.

It might include casual deception, or it might include only true statements, or no statements at all. Thus, acts described as kidding might be considered a kind teasing, whereas teasing carries a more general meaning.

Further, teasing is used commonly in a sexual or flirtatious context, as when one deliberately generates a tension between building toward and retreating from an intimate interaction.


A: Did you check the lottery draw?
B: Yes, I won. I'm rich.
A: Are you kidding me or did you really win?
B: I'm only kidding, of course. I didn't win. I never do.
A: You know I don't like it when you tease.
B: How can we have fun without ever teasing each other?

Striptease describes an art form in which a performer removes clothing in a sexually-suggestive way, such as to cause an onlooker to want her to achieve a greater final state of undress or to proceed at a greater speed than he observes that she actually does.

  • The progressive aspect is not limited to the present. books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – LPH
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 14:24
  • Point accepted.
    – brainchild
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 14:28
  • Good points in this answer (some already made by LPH). But please read the comment there (originally from Matt Gutting) about the requirements of a good answer on ELU. Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 14:41
  • I don't know what the original source is of this remark, but when someone inexperienced with a vernacular asks questions about it, the source of the response material is usually someone's experience. What would you suggest as an authoritative reference to provide this information, and if one is available, what value would you want me to add to the reference information in my response?
    – brainchild
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 14:55
  • @EdwinAshworth: Would you give an example illustrating what you might prefer? Obviously, if this very topic is discussed in some reference, then it need not be discussed here, otherwise, the response I gave would seem to me very helpful.
    – brainchild
    Commented Apr 11, 2020 at 14:06

There are important differences even if both are much founded on joking. The contentions exposed below can be verified on the whole at the entries of the OALD for the verbs in comparison : kid, tease.

1/ "Kidding" does not necessarily involve "making fun" and/or "irritating" whereas "teasing" does.
2/ "Kidding" involves a lie or lies whereas "teasing" does not necessarily do so and can be based on a distortion of reality such as exaggeration or particular biases that can be found in it or given to it.

However, whether a bout of kidding or of teasing it can always be ended by "[I'm/we are/they are] [just/only] joking.".

Grammatically, there is also an important difference: the verb "to kid" is usually used in the progressive tenses whereas this is not so for "to tease".

  • Kidding and lying are different. The former always is intended to be harmless and to be resolved promptly, whereas the latter always is intended to cause another to leave an interaction carrying false beliefs.
    – brainchild
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 6:32
  • As @Matt Gutting says, "Hi! What we're really looking for (on this or any other Stack Exchange site) is a supported answer; one that you can support with authoritative references (in this case a ... dictionary, or some other such document). Edit your question and put in your support; then [more contributors will] be able to vote up your answer." Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 14:35

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