Date: 1200-1300
Language: Old French
Origin: tuchier, from Vulgar Latin toccare 'to knock, hit a bell, touch'; from the sound


1 verb
touch1 S2 W2


[transitive] to put your hand, finger etc on someone or something:
She reached out to touch his arm.
If your house has been burgled, you shouldn't touch anything until the police arrive.
'Don't touch me!' she yelled.
touch somebody on the arm/leg etc
A hand touched her on the shoulder.

no space between

[intransitive and transitive] if two things touch, or one thing touches another thing, they reach each other so that there is no space between them:
As our glasses touched, he said 'Cheers!'
Her dress was so long that it was touching the ground.

touch something to something

literary to move something so that it reaches something else with no space between the two things:
She touched the handkerchief to her nose.
He touched his lips to her hair.

affect somebody's feelings

[transitive] to affect someone's emotions, especially by making them feel sympathy or sadness:
Her plight has touched the hearts of people around the world.
She could sense his concern and it touched her.
touched, touching1

have an effect

[transitive] to have an effect on someone or something, especially by changing or influencing them:
He has touched the lives of many people.
Unemployment remains an evil that touches the whole community.
He was often touched by doubt (=doubt affected him).


[transitive usually in negatives] to use or handle something:
The law doesn't allow him to touch any of the money.
It's a long time since I've touched a piano.

not touch something

a) to not eat or drink something:
What's wrong? You've hardly touched your food.
My grandfather was an alcoholic but I never touch the stuff (=never drink alcohol).
b) to not deal with something that you should deal with:
I brought home loads of work, but I haven't touched any of it yet.

not touch somebody/something

to not hurt someone or not damage something:
The older boys swore they hadn't touched the child.
Parma had not been touched.

deal with somebody/something

[transitive] to become involved with or deal with a particular problem, situation, or person:
He was the only lawyer who would touch the case.
Everything he touches turns to disaster.
No school would touch a teacher who had been convicted of assault.

reach an amount

[transitive] especially British English to reach a particular amount or level:
At the time, the unemployment rate was touching 10 percent and rising.


[transitive] British English to gently hit or kick a ball - used especially in reports of sports games:
Evans was just able to touch the ball away from Wilkinson.

not touch something/somebody (with a bargepole)

British English not touch something/somebody with a ten-foot pole American English used to say that you think someone or something is bad and people should not be involved with them:
I wouldn't touch him with a bargepole.
Financial analysts have warned investors not to touch these offers with a ten-foot pole.

be touched with something

literary to have a small amount of a particular quality:
His voice was touched with the faintest of Italian accents.
Her nails had been manicured and lightly touched with colour.


[transitive] if an expression such as a smile touches your face, your face has that expression for a short time:
A smile touched her lips.

relate to something

[transitive] to be about or to deal with a particular subject, situation, or problem:
Though the question touched a new vein, Nelson answered promptly.
The discourse touches many of the issues which are currently popular.


[transitive] literary if light touches something, it shines on it:
The sun was just touching the tops of the mountains.

nothing/no one can touch somebody/something

used for saying that nothing or no one is as good as a particular person or thing:
He describes the events with a passion that no other writer can touch.

touch base (with somebody)

to talk to someone in order to find out how they are or what is happening:
I just wanted to touch base and make sure you hadn't changed your mind about seeing me.

touch bottom

a) to reach the ground at the bottom of a sea, river etc:
He swam down but could not touch bottom.
b) to reach the lowest level or worst condition:
The housing market has touched bottom.

➔ touch a (raw) nerve

at nerve1 (6)

; ➔ touch wood

at wood (3)

touch down

phrasal verb
1TTA when an aircraft touches down, it lands on the ground:
The plane finally touched down at Heathrow airport around midday.
2 in the sport of rugby, to score by putting the ball on the ground behind the other team's goal line

touch somebody for something

phrasal verb
to persuade someone to give or lend you something, especially money:
He tried to touch me for the taxi fare home.

touch something ↔ off

phrasal verb
to cause a difficult situation or violent events to begin:
It was these national rivalries that eventually touched off the First World War.

touch on/upon something

phrasal verb
to mention a particular subject when talking or writing:
The report touches on the relationship between poverty and poor health.
These issues were touched on in Chapter 2.

touch somebody/something ↔ up

phrasal verb
1 to improve something by changing it slightly or adding a little more to it:
She quickly touched up her lipstick.
The photograph had obviously been touched up.
The speech he finally gave had been touched up by his staff.
2 British English informal to touch someone in a sexual way when they do not want you to:
He was accused of touching up one of his students.

Dictionary results for "touch"
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