pal·​pa·​ble ˈpal-pə-bəl How to pronounce palpable (audio)
: capable of being touched or felt : tangible
palpable lymph nodes
: easily perceptible : noticeable
a palpable difference
The attraction between them was palpable.
: easily perceptible by the mind : manifest
palpability noun
palpably adverb

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Feel Out the Definition of Palpable

The word palpable has been used in English since the 14th century. It derives from the Latin word palpare, meaning "to stroke" or "to caress"—the same root that gives us the word palpitation. The Latin verb is also a linguistic ancestor of the verb feel. Palpable can be used to describe things that can be felt through the skin, such as a person's pulse, but even more frequently it is used in reference to things that cannot be touched but are still so easy to perceive that it is as though they could be touched—such as "a palpable tension in the air."

Choose the Right Synonym for palpable

perceptible, sensible, palpable, tangible, appreciable, ponderable mean apprehensible as real or existent.

perceptible applies to what can be discerned by the senses often to a minimal extent.

a perceptible difference in sound to a careful listener

sensible applies to whatever is clearly apprehended through the senses or impresses itself strongly on the mind.

an abrupt, sensible drop in temperature

palpable applies either to what has physical substance or to what is obvious and unmistakable.

the tension in the air was almost palpable

tangible suggests what is capable of being handled or grasped both physically and mentally.

no tangible evidence of UFOs

appreciable applies to what is distinctly discernible by the senses or definitely measurable.

an appreciable increase in income

ponderable suggests having definitely measurable weight or importance.

exerted a ponderable influence on world events

Examples of palpable in a Sentence

A positive patch-test result, measured by a visible and palpable localized response, denotes a delayed hypersensitivity response … Simon Kallal et al., New England Journal of Medicine, 7 Feb. 2008
There's a palpable feeling of community here: owner Lee McLemore stocks the store with a surprisingly large wine selection, police chief Andy Williams moonlights in the prepared-foods section and barbecues in the parking lot, and George Watkins personally fills the shelves with his superb tupelo honey. Todd Coleman, Saveur, October 2006
When I'm back in nature after months of walking around on concrete and living in boxes, I feel a palpable internal shift. Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, 2006
I felt a palpable sense of relief. The attraction between them was palpable. There was a palpable excitement in the air as the town prepared for the festival. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The atmosphere in Sin City is palpable, and shades of red have covered the entire city. Alison Booth, Kansas City Star, 11 Feb. 2024 As much as Ukrainian officials have gone out of their way to express gratitude for all the support the United States has provided in the past, there is a palpable disappointment at Washington’s dysfunction, which Ukrainians say is already costing lives on the battlefield. Marc Santora, New York Times, 8 Feb. 2024 Barbour’s grief was palpable even nearly a year on. Nicole Tung, Washington Post, 5 Feb. 2024 Their magnetic sibling bond is palpable even in their childhood memories, like in these sweet snaps Eilish posted to celebrate Finneas' birthday in 2018. Zoey Lyttle, Peoplemag, 3 Feb. 2024 Among them are her mother and a beloved aunt, and, in the show’s most powerful scene, a drag queen cousin who teaches her how to apply makeup before exploding during a public humiliation, Spears making the heartbreak disarmingly palpable. Rob Hubbard, Twin Cities, 29 Jan. 2024 The sense of community and urgency among those gathered to listen to him was palpable. Peter Vanham, Fortune, 18 Jan. 2024 There is a palpable sense of nostalgia for a city that is changing beyond recognition. Jireh Deng, Los Angeles Times, 25 Jan. 2024 But Jonathan’s palpable interest in Cairo immediately overshadows the comparative complexity of his relationship with Beatrice as every exchange feels too close and too private. Todd Gilchrist, Variety, 24 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'palpable.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Late Latin palpabilis, from Latin palpare to stroke, caress — more at feel

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of palpable was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near palpable

Cite this Entry

“Palpable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


pal·​pa·​ble ˈpal-pə-bəl How to pronounce palpable (audio)
: capable of being touched or felt : tangible
: easily sensed : noticeable
: easily understood or recognized : obvious
a palpable error
palpability noun
palpably adverb

Medical Definition


pal·​pa·​ble ˈpal-pə-bəl How to pronounce palpable (audio)
: capable of being touched or felt
especially : capable of being examined by palpation
the tip of the spleen was questionably palpable Journal of the American Medical Association

More from Merriam-Webster on palpable

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