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Blend of skin +‎ kinship; can also be formulated as skin +‎ -ship. Recorded as early as 1966 by the OED; probably a calque of Japanese スキンシップ (sukinshippu), itself a pseudo-anglicism recorded to date back to at least 1955, or Korean 스킨십 (seukinsip) (1971 or older). In Japanese, this form was also observed in the Latin script as early as 1955.[1]


skinship (uncountable)

  1. (particularly Japan, South Korea) Bonding through physical (touch, skin-to-skin) contact; particularly between family members, relatives and loved ones.
    • 1994, Nicole Landry Sault, Many Mirrors: Body Image and Social Relations[1], Rutgers University Press, →ISBN, page 311:
      In Mexico, interdependence among people in emphasized and expressed through cosleeping and "skinship." … A similar type of "skinship" also exists throughout Mexico—all one had to do is look at the way people walk or sit together. … women are always patting touching ...
    • 2015, LT Wolf, The World King (fiction), →ISBN:
      However, there were times that folks needed that skinship to feel hearten'd and Dan often felt when others had that need.
  2. Spending time together naked for social bonding.
    • 1992, Scott Clark, “The Japanese Bath: Extraordinarily Ordinary”, in Joseph Jay Tobin, editor, Re-made in Japan: Everyday Life and Consumer Taste in a Changing Society[2] (social science), Yale University Press, published 1992, page 102:
      This relationship of parents to children is especially enhanced by bathing together—commonly known as skinship (sukinshippu). Other groups, from businessmen or to neighboring housewives to hikers and classmates, often seek to increase the strength of a relationship by engaging in hadaka no tsukiai at a sentō, health center, or onsen.



  1. ^ skinship, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2021.