Definition of touch in English:

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Pronunciation: /tʌtʃ/


[with object]
1Come into or be in contact with: he leaned back so that only two legs of his chair touched the floor
More example sentences
  • Its majestic branches drooped dramatically, some nearly touching the ground, but all providing a cozy little curtain whenever the crew decided to hang around at its grassy base.
  • She was curled up in a cozy little ball with her arms around her knees, nightshirt trailing beneath her like a ghostly shroud, not quite touching the floor.
  • He was incredibly professional looking, his black and gray robes nearly touching the floor.
be in contact (with), come into contact (with), come together (with), meet, join, connect, converge (with), be contiguous (with), border (on), be (up) against, link up (with), adjoin, abut, neighbour
1.1Bring one’s hand or another part of one’s body into contact with: he touched a strand of her hair Andrew touched him on the shoulder
More example sentences
  • He didn't grip her tightly but barely let his fingers touch her body.
  • A mother who picks up an affected new-born baby suddenly discovers she has left a trail of blisters across its body - just by touching it gently.
  • Stealthily I moved in, until I was so close I could have actually touched the little body that lay motionless in the grass in front of me.
press lightly, tap, pat, nudge, prod, poke;
feel, stroke, rub, rub (up) against, brush, brush (up) against, graze;
fondle, caress, pet, tickle, toy with, play about with, fiddle with, finger, thumb, handle;
put one's hand on, lay a hand on, lay a finger on
1.2Come or bring into mutual contact: [no object]: for a moment their fingers touched [with object]: we touched wheels and nearly came off the road
More example sentences
  • They reached, and for one agonising moment they touched fingers…
  • She hands him back his credit card, and their fingers touch for a moment.
  • Their hands touched slightly and Ann pulled back as though she had been burned.
1.3 [with object and adverbial of direction] Strike (a ball) lightly in a specified direction: he touched back a cross-field ball
More example sentences
  • Superb play from Ballack, who robbed Fabregas and then touched the ball past him to earn a time-wasting free-kick.
  • A cross from Pat Gaughan found Wayne Crossley and he touched the ball into the bottom corner.
  • The supporting Rob Bourne was tackled almost on the line. A ruck was formed, and hooker Matt Hartley touched the ball down to score an unconverted try.
1.4 Geometry Be tangent to (a curve or surface) at a certain point.
2Handle in order to interfere with, alter, or otherwise affect: I didn’t play her records or touch any of her stuff
More example sentences
  • I hadn't touched the gear handle or flaps after the shot, and, therefore, reasoned the gear and flaps still were down.
  • Nevertheless, these are dangerous animals and should not be touched or interfered with in any way by divers.
  • McLaren were also fined even though the contents of the box were not touched and were legal.
handle, hold, pick up, move;
meddle with, play (about/around) with, toy with, fiddle with, interfere with, tamper with, disturb, harm, lay a hand on, lay a finger on;
use, employ, make use of, put to use, have access to, access, avail oneself of, get (at), take advantage of
2.1Cause harm to (someone): I’ve got friends who’ll pull strings—nobody will dare touch me
More example sentences
  • If you try to harm me, or touch me, you may suffer a worse fate.
  • If you dared touch her you are as good as dead and that is by my law!
  • An enormous hate wells up in her for the man who would dare to touch her mother; the woman who works herself almost to death to provide for her child.
2.2 [usually with negative] Consume or use (food, drink, money, etc.): the pint by his right hand was hardly touched in three years I haven’t touched a cent of the money
More example sentences
  • The Deep has managed to build up credit worth £2.9m, but because it is a registered charity, does not pay tax, and therefore cannot touch the money.
  • Are we still not touching money today because it's dirty?
  • Since you cannot touch the money until you retire, you no longer have a rainy-day fund, or a down payment for a house.
taste, consume, eat, drink, take, partake of
3Affect or concern: a tenth of state companies have been touched by privatization
More example sentences
  • This was a concert for those touched by dispossession and resistance.
  • When one talks about reforms in the Muslim community, none of the important organisations touch these issues.
  • Thanks for a great analysis touching many of the important bases.
affect, have an effect on, concern, involve, have a bearing on, be relevant to, be pertinent to
3.1 [with negative] Have any dealings with: he was good only for the jobs that nobody else would touch
More example sentences
  • The result will create fear at the Today programme, where there should be pride. As so many times before, they were there with a story that nobody else would touch.
  • I even came to him with that Faulkner book, which nobody would touch.
  • I don't touch anything involved with electricity, for example.
be associated with, concern oneself with, involve oneself in/with, get involved with/in, have something to do with, have dealings with, deal with, handle, be a party to
informal touch something with a bargepole
3.2(Of a quality or expression) be or become visible or apparent in: the voice was touched by hysteria a wry smile touched his lips
More example sentences
  • His expression touching bewilderment, he nevertheless returned my mother's overpowering embrace with a smile and genuine goodbye.
  • An unidentifiable expression touches Michael's features, then he lets his eyelids fall shut and rotates his head away from us on the pillow.
  • A wry smile touched Ame's lips as she ran her fingers over the faded image, eyes softening.
4Produce feelings of affection, gratitude, or sympathy in: she was touched by her friend’s loyalty
More example sentences
  • His wife, who arranged the whole deal, kept trying to talk to him, but he couldn't take his eyes off Tommy Lee, who looked touched by the affection the dude had for him.
  • Teach your teachers and leaders to pray before class starts, asking God to guide their words and touch the hearts of their students.
  • I think your words have touched my heart completely.
affect, move, stir, arouse, make/leave an impression on, impress, have an impact on, have an effect on;
influence, impassion;
upset, disturb, make sad, arouse sympathy, melt, soften
informal get (to)
affected, softened, moved, stirred, swayed, aroused, impressed, influenced, warmed, impassioned, upset, disturbed, distressed
5 informal Reach (a specified level or amount): sales touched twenty grand last year
More example sentences
  • The yen, meanwhile, held in check by Japan's central bank, can only manage a 41-month high, touching levels last seen in late 2000.
  • From any standard this level is said to be touching the poverty line, but statistics show that despite the government's claims poverty is on the rise.
  • The housing loan, the key component of the advance portfolio, touched the level of Rs 110 crore.
reach, attain, arrive at, come to, make;
get up to, rise to, soar to;
get down to, sink to, plummet to, dive to
informal hit
5.1 [usually with negative] Be comparable to in quality or excellence: there’s no one who can touch him at lightweight judo
More example sentences
  • There's no one who can touch Noble for flights of nonsensical fancy.
  • Chris [Cormier] can't touch Flex for symmetry and structure, and that's why I expect a lighter and better Wheeler to finish a strong second behind Ronnie.
  • But when it comes to building lovable robots, no-on can touch Sony for cuteness (and no, they're not on sale yet).
compare with, be on a par with, equal, match, be a match for, be in the same class as, be in the same league as, be on an equal footing with, parallel, rival, come near, get near, approach, come up to, come/get close to, measure up to/against;
better, beat
informal hold a candle to
6 (touch someone for) informal Ask someone for (money or some other commodity) as a loan or gift: he touched me for his fare
More example sentences
  • Sasha, a charity worker, is more interested in cosying up to big fish than touching them for their money.
  • So in a fit of sentimentality and with the keen realization that the guy still has a couple hundred grand that you haven't touched him for yet, you name your first born after it.
  • You can touch Evan for the occasional meal or drinks but a million bucks is crossing the line.
ask, approach;
beg, borrow from
7 (touch something in) chiefly Art Lightly mark in features or other details with a brush or pencil.


1An act of touching someone or something: her touch on his shoulder was hesitant [mass noun]: expressions of love through words and touch [in singular]: manipulate images on the screen at the touch of a key
More example sentences
  • He ran his fingers across it wondering what it was supposed to mean, but at the touch of his hand words suddenly appeared.
  • Alex jumps at the touch of Robert's hand on his shoulder.
  • He jumped at the touch of my hand to his bare skin.
press, tap, pat, nudge, prod, poke, push, glance, flick;
stroke, brush, graze;
1.1 [mass noun] The faculty of perception through physical contact, especially with the fingers: reading by touch
More example sentences
  • Even if one is blessed with the senses of touch, smell, speech and hearing, it is sight that gives shape to imagination.
  • They were doing this with their hands in the dark with just a flashlight, and just using their senses of touch, smell and sight.
  • The wall will include different pieces of artwork to stimulate various senses including touch, smell, sight and sound.
feeling, feel, sense of touch, contact, tactile sense, tactility;
1.2 [mass noun] A musician’s manner of playing keys or strings.
Example sentences
  • What makes Jansons unique in his métier is the intricacy of his musical touch.
  • Information is included on staccato touches and the two-note slur touch.
  • Piau here has a lightness of touch which sits perfectly with the Mozart.
1.3 [mass noun] The manner in which a musical instrument’s keys or strings respond to being played: Viennese instruments with their too delicate touch
1.4A light stroke with a pen, pencil, etc.
Example sentences
  • Burningham really knows how to convey fatigue with the lightest of touches (the strokes of pen that make the eyes do much of the work).
  • Finally, the tiny details were added by the deft pencil, filling in the gaps with intricate strokes in the very lightest of touches…
  • He portrays his wife with the lightest of touches, using red chalk, heightened with white in soft, feathery strokes which evince the profound French influence on his art.
2A small amount; a trace: add a touch of vinegar he retired to bed with a touch of flu
More example sentences
  • A touch of Mardi Gras with a carnival type atmosphere was the end result and children of all ages had a memorable experience on this special occasion in Tubbercurry.
  • A touch of first night nerves hit the more experienced actors hardest, as one might expect but no doubt they disappeared as the week progressed.
  • A touch of Superstar Complacency had set in, I thought - which is a bit rich when you haven't even released your first single yet.
small amount, trace, bit, suggestion, suspicion, hint, scintilla, tinge, tincture, whiff, whisper, overtone, undertone, nuance, murmur, colouring, breath, vein;
dash, taste, spot, drop, dab, pinch, speck, smack, smattering, sprinkling, splash, soupçon
2.1A small distinctive detail or feature: the film’s most inventive touch
More example sentences
  • Also offered is lunchtime delivery service, which, if you happen to work in the area, is a nice touch - call for details.
  • While a little light in content, this was an interesting feature and a nice touch.
  • A nice touch is the addition of plasma tv screens to watch sporting events while you play.
detail, feature, fine point, nicety, addition, accessory;
(touches) minutiae
3 [in singular] A distinctive manner or method of dealing with something: later he showed a surer political touch
More example sentences
  • Serving tea to the Dixon family in Mr Howard's sitting room showed a political touch which the Tories have lacked for the best part of a decade.
  • Craig David has been to Rishi's studio giving his single Spanish a bhangra touch, even managing to sing a verse in Punjabi that had been specially written for him.
  • The woman's voice had been selected after tests with pilots showed that the feminine touch proved the most effective.
skill, skilfulness, expertise, dexterity, deftness, virtuosity, adroitness, adeptness, ability, talent, flair, facility, proficiency;
knack, technique, approach, style, manner, execution, method;
feel, craftsmanship, workmanship, artistry, performance
influence, effect, hand, handling;
direction, management, technique, method
3.1An ability to deal with something successfully: getting caught looks so incompetent, as though we’re losing our touch
More example sentences
  • The Prime Minister, we are told, is losing his touch.
  • However, I'm going to shout that honestly, Rick, you are losing your touch.
  • But there are signs that he could be losing his touch for self-promotion.
4 [in singular] Rugby & Soccer The area beyond the sidelines, out of play: his clearance went directly into touch figurative the idea was kicked firmly into touch by the authorities
More example sentences
  • The English mistakes came thick and fast as Jonny Wilkinson knocked on and Luger sliced a horrible kick into touch to the delight of the Welsh supporters.
  • If their hearts are not at the club then they should be kicked straight into touch.
  • Once at University Andrew kicked rugby into touch because he was fed up of waking up with a thick head, took up rowing - and the rest is history.
5 [in singular] informal, dated An act of asking for and getting a loan or gift from someone: I only tolerated him because he was good for a touch now and then
6 Bell-ringing A series of changes shorter than a peal.
7 [in singular] archaic A thing that tests the worth or character of something: you must put your fate to the touch



a touch

To a slight degree; a little: the water was a touch chilly for us
More example sentences
  • There is a sick feeling developing in my stomach, accompanied by a slight fear and a touch of anger.
  • After a while it becomes a little too solid, but a touch more water fixes that.
  • Now I have a pint of hot water with a touch of lemon, then two pieces of fruit like a banana and apple.

in touch

1In or into communication: ask someone to put you in touch with other carers I’m not much of a one for keeping in touch
More example sentences
  • This might be good news for the communications industry and good news for anyone trying to get in touch with us.
  • We really hope that people from Asian communities with an interest in charities will get in touch and join this scheme.
  • All community groups have to do is get in touch and tell us how they believe broadband would help them.
2Possessing up-to-date knowledge: we need to keep in touch with the latest developments
More example sentences
  • She was an avid reader and kept in touch with her home county through the weekly Connaught Telegraph.
  • Make sure to get this web address to those who are living away so that they may be able to stay in touch with what we are all up to in this neck of the woods.
  • In Washington, President Bill Clinton cancelled his schedule to keep in touch with developments.
2.1Having an intuitive awareness: you need to be in touch with your feelings
More example sentences
  • The sessions are aimed at getting individuals in touch with the inner self.
  • This was the work of a vital performer in touch with the soul of the Cosmic American Music.
  • I want him to be in touch with his Australian heritage and learn to tackle and play the game that they play in heaven.

lose touch

1Cease to be in communication: I lost touch with him when he joined the Air Force
More example sentences
  • Most of the people who are going through this now had already lost touch with the only community they'd ever known.
  • Soon the cattle were sold and, over time, the farmer's wife lost touch with the farming community around her.
  • Since becoming single again, I've been making an effort to get back in touch with old friends I'd stupidly lost touch with.
2Cease to be aware or informed: we cannot lose touch with political reality
More example sentences
  • They are very keen that their children should not lose touch with their culture.
  • Yet, Nani never felt that she was anything other than Indonesian, as her parents constantly reminded her that although they lived in a foreign country that did not mean that they had an excuse to lose touch with their origins.
  • It is the fate of modernism that we repeatedly lose touch with nature, the environment, the planet.

out of touch

Lacking up-to-date knowledge or information: he seems out of touch with recent economic thinking
More example sentences
  • Some people are impermeable to information or wholly out of touch with the topical subjects of the day.
  • There was also a discussion after the dinner about whether the media elite is out of touch with America.
  • I am completely out of touch with what's going on in the world.
4.1Lacking in awareness or sympathy: we have been betrayed by a government out of touch with our values
More example sentences
  • They were historic movies out of touch with history, out of touch with morality.
  • It's easy to see why the message touches so many people, as so many people feel out of touch with nature; that is to say, alienated.
  • Bangladesh played well today and Australia seemed a bit out of touch.

to the touch

When touched: the ankle was swollen and painful to the touch
More example sentences
  • The paper is soft, rough, and unpleasant to the touch, and the typeface and printing quality are a strain to the eye.
  • For some strange reason, everything around seems to be slightly warm to the touch but that may be me.
  • Her whole body seemed to be throbbing and every millimeter of her skin was painful to the touch.

touch bottom

Reach the ground below a stretch of water with one’s feet or a pole.
Example sentences
  • Then I let myself down into the water which, on touching bottom, proved to be several feet over my head in depth.
  • He sank below the surface, and his feet touched bottom!
  • Her feet touched bottom and she stood up slowly, revelling in the water flowing from her as she rose from the pool.
6.1Be at the lowest or worst point: the housing market has touched bottom
More example sentences
  • But I have no idea where, or when, the market will touch bottom, and I don't really care.
  • The economy has touched bottom, but the recovery is still sluggish.
  • There are, however, hints that the chain has touched bottom.

touch of nature

A display of human feeling with which others sympathize (based on a misinterpretation of Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida iii iii. 169).
Example sentences
  • He might have such a gift in mind when he says that ‘[m]anners are for me the touch of nature, an artifice in the very bloodstream’.
  • ‘One touch of nature makes the whole world kin’, and the same human nature exists under the crown of the King and the crownless hat of the beggar.

touch of the sun

A slight attack of sunstroke: they both had a touch of the sun

Phrasal verbs


touch at

(Of a ship) call briefly at (a port): before returning to Denmark, he touched at Sandwich
More example sentences
  • His great fleet touched at the Orkneys, moved south to the Tyne to join with Tostig, and then entered the Humber, menacing York.
  • No fleet can possibly sail to or return from India without touching at some proper place for refreshment, and, in time of war, it must be equally necessary for protection.

touch down

1 Rugby Touch the ground with the ball behind the opponents' goal line, scoring a try.
Example sentences
  • Francis Meli was twice denied tries by forward passes and scrum-half Lance Hohaia would have touched down, but he grounded the ball short of the line after a fine run and dive.
  • But this sparked the Welsh into life and they scored a wonderful try of their own when scrum-half Gareth Cooper touched down after a flowing passage of play.
  • The pair swapped roles for the second try when Cain, playing at scrum-half, provided the pass for loose forward Ball to touch down under the sticks.
1.1 American Football Score six points by being in possession of the ball behind the opponents' goal line.
Example sentences
  • If he crossed the goal line near the sideline, a runner might try to fight his way toward the middle before touching down so as to get a better angle.
2(Of an aircraft or spacecraft) land: his plane touched down at Nice airport
More example sentences
  • Tailwheel aircraft might actually touch down tailwheel-first.
  • This is followed by the bump and lurch as the aircraft touches down and the engines roar into full reverse.
  • The aircraft may have also touched down at a sideways angle.
land, alight, come in to land, come down, come to earth, come to rest, put down, make a landing, arrive

touch something off

1Cause something to ignite or explode by touching it with a lighted match.
Example sentences
  • When you touch it off though, it gets your attention.
  • Often though, what we find is ugly surplus ammo that's just scary-enough to make you tense-a-bit when you touch it off.
  • When they were touched off, you truly felt like there was a thunderstick in your hand!
detonate, set off, trigger, explode, spark (off)
1.1Cause something to happen suddenly: there was concern that the move could touch off a trade war
More example sentences
  • There is an incident of some kind that touches it off.
  • The killer waves were touched off by a 9.0 earthquake, six miles under the Indian Ocean.
  • One of the many earthquakes that rocked the campaign was touched off when Goldwater offhandedly said that Minuteman missiles, one of the mainstays of the U.S. nuclear deterrent, were undependable.
initiate, set off, start, begin, set in motion, instigate, ignite, trigger (off), stir up, provoke, foment, cause, give rise to, lead to, generate, actuate, launch
2(Of a racehorse) defeat another horse in a race by a short margin: Royal Ballerina was touched off by Intrepidity in the English Oaks

touch on (or upon)

1Deal briefly with (a subject) in written or spoken discussion: he touches upon several themes from the last chapter
More example sentences
  • We talked for an hour and a half, only briefly touching on the subject of finalizing the tentative plans we'd made (picked a day and that was about it), and then he had to be off.
  • Actually I'm interested in opening up this discussion and touching on the subject of the amount of time you spend playing games against the contrast of your increased age and the change in the games themselves.
  • We talked for forty-five minutes, briefly touching on the subject of last Saturday night, but mostly dancing around it.
refer to, mention, give a mention to, comment on, remark on, bring up, speak of, talk about, write about, deal with, raise, broach, cover, allude to, make an allusion to, hint at, skim over
2Come near to being: a self-confident manner touching on the arrogant
More example sentences
  • This symmetrical infidelity makes for an interesting game of dominoes, in which the players' conversation skirts around questions of sex, marriage, and the rights of a wronged husband, without ever touching on the truth.
come close to, verge on, border on, incline to, approach, resemble, be tantamount to, be more or less, be not far from/off

touch someone up

British informal Caress someone without their consent, for one’s own sexual pleasure: he was sacked after one of his pupils accused him of touching her up
More example sentences
  • They run into many stereotypical tourists - the British are a bunch of football hooligans, led by Vinnie Jones, the Italians are represented by an outrageously gay man, who touches Scotty up in train tunnels, etc.
  • No, she was not there at that time. She was only there that time when them two were touching me up.
  • S also said that R was ‘really weird’ and frequently woke up shouting that ‘lads were touching her up’ at nights when there was nobody else in the room.
fondle, molest, feel up
informal grope, paw, maul, goose
North American informal cop a feel

touch something up

Make small improvements to something: these paints are handy for touching up small areas on walls or ceilings
More example sentences
  • It seems now that the Townlands mural has been reprieved and it is hoped when the renovation work is complete in the Loch Inn building the mural will be touched up and refreshed.
  • All over Athens, in the lead-up to this morning's opening ceremony, buildings have been touched up and instant lawn rolled out to spruce up the ancient city for the Olympics.
  • The workmen are busy touching things up and adjusting the projections.
repaint, patch up, retouch, renovate, refurbish, spruce up, restore, revive, renew, revamp, brush up, rehabilitate, overhaul, recondition, refresh, rejuvenate;
enhance, beautify
informal do something up, give something a facelift, titivate
improve, enhance, gloss, dress up, embellish, embroider;
finish off, round off, perfect;
update, upgrade;
bring up to date, modernize, revamp, revise, redo, polish up, rewrite, edit



Pronunciation: /ˈtʌtʃəb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • The corporeal, physical body is the tangible, seeable, touchable body, manifesting the desire of the spirit energy, to see itself manifest into a form that proves and provides its worth to all.
  • The ‘Other’ was not at a distance but highly visible and touchable as a workmate, a neighbour or a friend with whom close contact was maintained both within and outside the mill.
  • Canadians spend so much time agonizing over our lack of solid, touchable, definable identity that it has practically become a national pastime.


Middle English: the verb from Old French tochier, probably from a Romance word of imitative origin; the noun originally from Old French touche, later (in certain senses) directly from the verb.

  • A word from Old French tochier ‘to touch’. In modern French this is toucher, which is the source of touché, literally ‘touched!’, said in fencing to acknowledge a hit made by your opponent, and more generally in recognition of a good or clever point in a discussion. In the mid 19th century touch developed a number of slang meanings among criminals. It described various ways of getting money from people, either by stealing, especially pickpocketing, or by some con trick. A soft touch was someone who was particularly easy to con or steal from, and even today the phrase is often used to describe someone who is always willing to lend money to a friend. Someone touched is slightly mad or crazy. The sense has been used since about 1700, and was probably suggested by a line of Shakespeare's, from Measure for Measure: ‘I am touch'd with madness.’

    From the 16th century a touchstone was a piece of jasper or other stone used for testing alloys of gold by observing the colour of the mark which they made on it. Nowadays a touchstone is usually a standard or criterion by which people judge or recognize something. Touchy, ‘easily upset or offended’, may not be directly from touch, though it has been influenced by the word. It was probably originally an alteration of tetchy ( see test).

Words that rhyme with touch

clutch, crutch, Dutch, hutch, inasmuch, insomuch, much, mutch, scutch, such, thrutch

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: touch

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