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From Middle English touchen, tochen, from Old French tochier (to touch) (whence Modern French toucher; compare French doublet toquer (to offend, bother, harass)), from Vulgar Latin *tuccō (to knock, strike, offend), from Frankish *tukkōn (to knock, strike, touch), from Proto-Germanic *tukkōną (to tug, grab, grasp), from Proto-Indo-European *dewk- (to draw, pull, lead). Displaced native Middle English rinen, from Old English hrīnan (whence Modern English rine).


  • enPR: tŭch, IPA(key): /tʌt͡ʃ/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌtʃ


touch (third-person singular simple present touches, present participle touching, simple past and past participle touched)

  1. Primarily physical senses.
    1. (transitive) To make physical contact with; to bring the hand, finger or other part of the body into contact with. [from 14th c.]
      I touched his face softly.
    2. (transitive) To come into (involuntary) contact with; to meet or intersect. [from 14th c.]
      Sitting on the bench, the hem of her skirt touched the ground.
    3. (intransitive) To come into physical contact, or to be in physical contact. [from 14th c.]
      They stood next to each other, their shoulders touching.
    4. (intransitive) To make physical contact with a thing. [from 14th c.]
      Please can I have a look, if I promise not to touch?
    5. (transitive) To physically disturb; to interfere with, molest, or attempt to harm through contact. [from 14th c.]
      If you touch her, I'll kill you.
    6. (transitive) To make intimate physical contact with a person.
    7. (transitive) To cause to be briefly in contact with something.
      He quickly touched his knee to the worn marble.
      The demonstrator nearly touched the rod on the ball.
      She touched her lips to the glass.
    8. (transitive) To physically affect in specific ways implied by context. [from 15th c.]
      Frankly, this wood's so strong that sandpaper won't touch it.
    9. (transitive) To consume, or otherwise use. [from 15th c.]
      Are you all right? You've hardly touched your lunch.
      • 1959, Georgette Heyer, chapter 1, in The Unknown Ajax:
        But Richmond [] appeared to lose himself in his own reflections. Some pickled crab, which he had not touched, had been removed with a damson pie; and his sister saw [] that he had eaten no more than a spoonful of that either.
    10. (intransitive) Of a ship or its passengers: to land, to make a short stop (at). [from 16th c.]
      • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick:
        Now a certain grand merchant ship once touched at Rokovoko, and its commander — from all accounts, a very stately punctilious gentleman, at least for a sea captain — this commander was invited to the wedding feast of Queequeg's sister, a pretty young princess just turned of ten.
    11. (transitive, now historical) To lay hands on (someone suffering from scrofula) as a form of cure, as formerly practised by English and French monarchs. [from 17th c.]
      • 1971, Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, Folio Society (2012), page 189:
        But in fact the English kings of the seventeenth century usually began to touch form the day of their accession, without waiting for any such consecration.
    12. (transitive or reflexive) To sexually excite with the fingers; to finger or masturbate. [from 20th c.]
      Her parents had caught her touching herself when she was fifteen.
    13. (intransitive, obsolete) To fasten; to take effect; to make impression.
      • 1631, Francis [Bacon], “(please specify |century=I to X)”, in Sylua Syluarum: Or A Naturall Historie. In Ten Centuries. [], 3rd edition, London: [] VVilliam Rawley; [p]rinted by J[ohn] H[aviland] for William Lee [], OCLC 1044372886:
        Strong waters pierce metals, and will touch upon gold, that will not touch upon silver.
    14. (nautical) To bring (a sail) so close to the wind that its weather leech shakes.
    15. (intransitive, nautical) To be brought, as a sail, so close to the wind that its weather leech shakes.
    16. (nautical) To keep the ship as near (the wind) as possible.
      to touch the wind
  2. Primarily non-physical senses.
    1. (transitive) To imbue or endow with a specific quality. [from 14th c.]
      My grandfather, as many people know, was touched with greatness.
    2. (transitive, archaic) To deal with in speech or writing; to mention briefly, to allude to. [from 14th c.]
      • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 54573970:
        , I.2.4.vii:
        Next to sorrow still I may annex such accidents as procure fear; for besides those terrors which I have before touched, [] there is a superstitious fear [] which much trouble many of us.
    3. (intransitive) To deal with in speech or writing; briefly to speak or write (on or upon something). [from 14th c.]
    4. (transitive) To concern, to have to do with. [14th-19th c.]
      • 1526, [William Tyndale, transl.], The Newe Testamẽt [] (Tyndale Bible), [Worms, Germany: Peter Schöffer], OCLC 762018299, Acts ]:
        Men of Israhell take hede to youreselves what ye entende to do as touchinge these men.
      • 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter I, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., OCLC 222716698:
        The stories did not seem to me to touch life. They were plainly intended to have a bracing moral effect, and perhaps had this result for the people at whom they were aimed. They left me with the impression of a well-delivered stereopticon lecture, with characters about as life-like as the shadows on the screen, and whisking on and off, at the mercy of the operator.
      • 1919, Saki, ‘The Penance’, The Toys of Peace, Penguin 2000 (Complete Short Stories), page 423:
        And now it seemed he was engaged in something which touched them closely, but must be hidden from their knowledge.
    5. (transitive) To affect emotionally; to bring about tender or painful feelings in. [from 14th c.]
      Stefan was touched by the song's message of hope.
    6. (transitive, dated) To affect in a negative way, especially only slightly. [from 16th c.]
      He had been drinking over lunch, and was clearly touched.
    7. (transitive, Scottish history) To give royal assent to by touching it with the sceptre. [from 17th c.]
      The bill was finally touched after many hours of deliberation.
    8. (transitive, slang) To obtain money from, usually by borrowing (from a friend). [from 18th c.]
      I was running short, so I touched old Bertie for a fiver.
    9. (transitive, always passive) To disturb the mental functions of; to make somewhat insane; often followed with "in the head". [from 18th c.]
      You must be touched if you think I'm taking your advice.
    10. (transitive, in negative constructions) To be on the level of; to approach in excellence or quality. [from 19th c.]
      • 1928, Dorothy L. Sayers, "The Abominable History of the Man with Copper Fingers", in Lord Peter Views the Body,
        There was his mistress, Maria Morano. I don't think I've ever seen anything to touch her, and when you work for the screen [as I do] you're apt to have a pretty exacting standard of female beauty.
      • 1934, Agatha Christie, chapter 6, in Murder on the Orient Express, London: HarperCollins, published 2017, page 118:
        'Lind Arden was a great genius, one of the greatest tragic actresses in the world. As Lady Macbeth, as Magda, there was no one to touch her.'
    11. (transitive) To come close to; to approach.
    12. (transitive, computing) To mark (a file or document) as having been modified.
  3. To try; to prove, as with a touchstone.
  4. To mark or delineate with touches; to add a slight stroke to with the pencil or brush.
  5. (obsolete) To infect; to affect slightly.
  6. To strike; to manipulate; to play on.
    to touch an instrument of music
  7. To perform, as a tune; to play.
  8. To influence by impulse; to impel forcibly.

Derived terms[edit]



touch (countable and uncountable, plural touches)

  1. An act of touching, especially with the hand or finger.
    Suddenly, in the crowd, I felt a touch at my shoulder.
  2. The faculty or sense of perception by physical contact.
    With the lights out, she had to rely on touch to find her desk.
  3. The style or technique with which one plays a musical instrument.
    He performed one of Ravel's piano concertos with a wonderfully light and playful touch.
  4. (music) The particular or characteristic mode of action, or the resistance of the keys of an instrument to the fingers.
    a heavy touch, or a light touch
  5. A distinguishing feature or characteristic.
    Clever touches like this are what make her such a brilliant writer.
  6. A little bit; a small amount.
    Move it left just a touch and it will be perfect.
    I'd like to see a touch more enthusiasm in the project.
  7. The part of a sports field beyond the touchlines or goal-lines.
    He got the ball, and kicked it straight out into touch.
  8. A relationship of close communication or understanding.
    He promised to keep in touch while he was away.
    lose touch
  9. The ability to perform a task well; aptitude.
    I used to be a great chess player but I've lost my touch.
    • 2011 September 29, Jon Smith, “Tottenham 3 - 1 Shamrock Rovers”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      Rovers' hopes of pulling off one of the great European shocks of all time lasted just 10 minutes before Spurs finally found their scoring touch.
  10. (obsolete) Act or power of exciting emotion.
  11. (obsolete) An emotion or affection.
  12. (obsolete) Personal reference or application.
  13. A single stroke on a drawing or a picture.
    • 1695, John Dryden, The Art of Painting
      Never give the least touch with your pencil till you have well examined your design.
  14. (obsolete) A brief essay.
  15. (obsolete) A touchstone; hence, stone of the sort used for touchstone.
  16. (obsolete) Examination or trial by some decisive standard; test; proof; tried quality.
  17. (shipbuilding) The broadest part of a plank worked top and but, or of one worked anchor-stock fashion (that is, tapered from the middle to both ends); also, the angles of the stern timbers at the counters.
    • 1711, William Sutherland, The Ship-Builder's Assistant:
      Set off the exact Length forward and aftward from the Observation of the rising of the Keel, by Shipwrights called the Touch, or Place where the Keel's upper Part ends to be streight.
  18. The children's game of tag.
  19. (bell-ringing) A set of changes less than the total possible on seven bells, i.e. less than 5,040.
  20. (slang) An act of borrowing or stealing something.
  21. (UK, plumbing, dated) Tallow.
  22. Form; standard of performance.
  23. (Australian rules football) A disposal of the ball during a game, i.e. a kick or a handball.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


  • touch at OneLook Dictionary Search




touch (invariable)

  1. touch; touch-screen