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noun \ˈtakt\

Simple Definition of tact

  • : the ability to do or say things without offending or upsetting other people

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of tact

  1. 1 :  sensitive mental or aesthetic perception <converted the novel into a play with remarkable skill and tact>

  2. 2 :  a keen sense of what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others or avoid offense

Examples of tact in a sentence

  1. Far from joining polite society like the debutants of the past, the kids gleefully rip through social graces, alienating friends and sacrificing tact all in the name of creating a VIP room filled with people too young to drive themselves home. —Ana Marie Cox, Time, 24 Apr. 2006

  2. The attorney general's lack of restraint and want of tact, on such an occasion … were clearly symptomatic of a considerable irritation, even rage. —Christopher Hitchens, Harper's, March 2001

  3. In society tact is the great art that makes for civility, for civilization … —Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadance, 2000

  4. He did not clear his throat with badinage, as timidity teaches us to do, nor did he waste his breath with tact. —Earl Shorris, Harper's, September 1997

  5. A man of gentle mien, he is inclined to use psychology and tact, rather than showboat heroics, when pursuing his murder inquiries. —Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review, 1 Jan. 1989

  6. The peace talks required great tact on the part of both leaders.

  7. I was surprised by his lack of tact.

Origin of tact

French, sense of touch, from Latin tactus, from tangere to touch — more at tangent

First Known Use: 1797

Synonym Discussion of tact

tact, address, poise, savoir faire mean skill and grace in dealing with others. tact implies delicate and considerate perception of what is appropriate <questions showing a lack of tact>. address stresses dexterity and grace in dealing with new and trying situations and may imply success in attaining one's ends <brought it off with remarkable address>. poise may imply both tact and address but stresses self-possession and ease in meeting difficult situations <answered the accusations with unruffled poise>. savoir faire is likely to stress worldly experience and a sure awareness of what is proper or expedient <the savoir faire of a seasoned traveler>.

Rhymes with tact

TACT Defined for Kids


noun \ˈtakt\

Definition of tact for Students

  1. :  the ability to do or say things without offending other people <She settled the argument with tact.>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up tact? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the range of perception or understanding

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