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From Middle English touchen, tochen, from Old French tochier ("to touch"; > Modern French toucher; compare French doublet toquer (to offend, bother, harass)), from Vulgar Latin *toccāre (to knock, strike, offend), from Old Frankish *tokkōn, *tukkōn (to knock, strike, touch), from Proto-Germanic *tukkōną, *tukkijaną (to draw, jerk, knock, strike, offend), from Proto-Indo-European *dukn-, *dewk- (to draw, pull, lead). Displaced native Middle English rinen, from Old English hrīnan ("to touch, reach, strike"; > English rine); Middle English repen, from Old English hrepian.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /tʌt͡ʃ/, [tʰɐt͡ʃ], enPR: tûch
  • (US) IPA(key): /tʌt͡ʃ/, [tʰʌt͡ʃ], enPR: tûch
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌt͡ʃ


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 her 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.
      • Bible, Genesis xxvi. 28, 29
        Let us make a covenant with thee, that thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee.
    6. (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.
    7. (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.
    8. (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.
    9. (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.
    10. (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.
    11. (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.
    12. (intransitive, obsolete) To fasten; to take effect; to make impression.
      • (Can we date this quote?) Francis Bacon
        Strong waters pierce metals, and will touch upon gold, that will not touch upon silver.
    13. (nautical) To bring (a sail) so close to the wind that its weather leech shakes.
    14. (intransitive, nautical) To be brought, as a sail, so close to the wind that its weather leech shakes.
    15. (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.]
      • 1621, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy, Oxford: Printed by Iohn Lichfield and Iames Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 216894069; The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd corrected and augmented edition, Oxford: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, 1624, 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, trans. Bible, Acts V:
        Men of Israhell take hede to youreselves what ye entende to do as touchinge these men.
      • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 1, in The Celebrity:
        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.]
      • 1603, William Shakespeare, Othello, Act IV, sc. 1:
        If you are so fond over her iniquity, give her patent
        to offend, for if it touch not you, it comes near
      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.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Alexander Pope
      The lines, though touched but faintly, are drawn right.
  5. (obsolete) To infect; to affect slightly.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Francis Bacon to this entry?)
  6. To strike; to manipulate; to play on.
    to touch an instrument of music
  7. To perform, as a tune; to play.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Sir Walter Scott
      A person in the royal retinue touched a light and lively air on the flageolet.
  8. To influence by impulse; to impel forcibly.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      No decree of mine, [] [to] touch with lightest moment of impulse his free will.

Derived termsEdit



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.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Shakespeare
      Madam, I have a touch of your condition.
  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.
  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.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Shakespeare
      Not alone / The death of Fulvia, with more urgent touches, / Do strongly speak to us.
  11. (obsolete) An emotion or affection.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Hooker
      a true, natural, and a sensible touch of mercy
  12. (obsolete) Personal reference or application.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Francis Bacon
      Speech of touch toward others should be sparingly used.
  13. A single stroke on a drawing or a picture.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Dryden
      Never give the least touch with your pencil till you have well examined your design.
  14. (obsolete) A brief essay.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Jonathan Swift
      Print my preface in such form as, in the booksellers' phrase, will make a sixpenny touch.
  15. (obsolete) A touchstone; hence, stone of the sort used for touchstone.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Shakespeare
      Now do I play the touch.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Fuller
      a neat new monument of touch and alabaster
  16. (obsolete) Examination or trial by some decisive standard; test; proof; tried quality.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Carew
      equity, the true touch of all laws
    • (Can we date this quote?) Shakespeare
      friends of noble touch
  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.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of J. Knowles to this entry?)
  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. (Britain, 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 termsEdit


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