v. touched, touch·ing, touch·es
1. To cause or permit a part of the body, especially the hand or fingers, to come in contact with so as to feel: reached out and touched the smooth stone.
a. To bring something into light contact with: touched the sore spot with a probe.
b. To bring (one thing) into light contact with something else: grounded the radio by touching a wire to it; touching fire to a fuse.
3. To press or push lightly; tap: touched a control to improve the TV picture; touched 19 on the phone to get room service.
4. To lay hands on in violence: I never touched him!
5. To eat or drink; taste: She didn't touch her food.
6. To disturb or move by handling: Just don't touch anything in my room!
a. To meet without going beyond; adjoin: the ridge where his property touches mine.
b. Mathematics To be tangent to.
c. To come up to; reach: when the thermometer touches 90°.
d. To match in quality; equal: Rival artists can't touch her work at its best.
8. To deal with, especially in passing; treat briefly or allusively: some remarks touching recent events.
9. To have an effect on: environmental problems that touch us all.
10. To affect the emotions of: an appeal that touched us deeply.
11. To injure slightly: plants touched by frost.
12. To color slightly; tinge: a white petal touched with pink.
a. To draw with light strokes.
b. To change or improve by adding fine lines or strokes.
14. To stamp (tested metal).
15. Slang To wheedle a loan or handout from: touched a friend for five dollars.
a. Archaic To strike or pluck the keys or strings of (a musical instrument).
b. To play (a musical piece).
1. To touch someone or something.
2. To be or come into contact: Don't let the live wires touch.
a. The act or an instance of touching.
b. A light push; a tap: an electric switch that requires just a touch.
c. Sports An instance of contacting or propelling the ball or puck: scored on the first touch.
2. The physiological sense by which external objects or forces are perceived through contact with the body.
3. A sensation experienced in touching something with a characteristic texture: felt the touch of snowflakes on her face.
4. A discernible mark or effect left by contact with something.
5. A small change or addition, or the effect achieved by it: Candlelight provided just the right touch.
6. A suggestion, hint, or tinge: a touch of jealousy.
7. A mild attack: a touch of the flu.
8. A small amount; a dash: a touch of paprika.
a. A manner or technique of striking the keys of a keyboard instrument: He played briskly with a light touch.
b. The resistance to pressure characteristic of the keys of a keyboard: an old piano with uneven touch.
10. An ability to propel a ball a desired distance; control or accuracy: a golfer with no touch around the green.
11. A facility; a knack: retained his touch as a carpenter in his retirement.
12. A characteristic way of doing things: recognized my friend's touch in the choice of the card.
13. The state of being in contact or communication: kept in touch with several classmates; out of touch with current trends.
14. An official stamp indicating the quality of a metal product.
a. The act of approaching someone for a loan or handout.
b. A prospect for a loan or handout: a generous person, a soft touch for beggars.
a. The area just outside the sidelines in soccer or just outside and including the sidelines in rugby.
b. Touch football.
To make contact with the ground; land: The spacecraft touched down on schedule.
1. To cause to explode; fire.
2. To initiate; trigger: disclosures that touched off a public uproar.
3. To describe or portray with deft precision.
touch on (or upon)
1. To deal with (a topic) in passing.
2. To pertain to; concern.
3. To approach being; verge on: enthusiasm that touched on frenzy.
Sports To win a swimming race just ahead of (a competitor) by touching the end of the pool first.
To improve by making minor corrections, changes, or additions.
1. Aware of the latest developments, as in current events or an area of interest.
2. Able to appreciate or understand the concerns or difficulties of others.
3. Able to be contacted, as by telephone or email: I will be in touch by phone after I arrive at the hotel.
out of touch
1. Unaware of the latest developments, as in current events or an area of interest.
2. Unable to appreciate or understand the concerns or difficulties of others.
3. Unable to be contacted, as by telephone or email: I will be out of touch during my flight to Los Angeles.
touch base (or bases)Informal
To renew a line of communication: “He went out of his way to touch base with a broad cross section of … residents” (George B. Merry).
[Middle English touchen, from Old French touchier, ultimately from Vulgar Latin *toccāre.]
Synonyms: touch, feel, finger, handle, paw
These verbs mean to bring the hands or fingers into contact with so as to give or receive a physical sensation: gently touched my hand; felt the runner's pulse; fingered the worry beads; handle a bolt of fabric; fans who pawed the celebrity's arm. See Also Synonyms at move.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.