pal·​pate | \ ˈpal-ˌpāt How to pronounce palpate (audio) \
palpated; palpating

Definition of palpate

transitive verb

: to examine by touch especially medically

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Other Words from palpate

palpation \ pal-​ˈpā-​shən How to pronounce palpate (audio) \ noun

Did You Know?

Palpate has been part of the English language since at least the mid-19th century. It was probably coined from the preexisting noun form palpation, which itself traces back to the Latin verb palpare, meaning "to stroke or caress." Other descendants of palpare in English include palpable, palpitate, and the verb palp. Even feel itself is a distant cousin of palpitate, as both words can be linked to the same ancient root word that gave Latin palpare.

Examples of palpate in a Sentence

The doctor palpated his ribs to see if there was any tenderness.
Recent Examples on the Web His friends are doctors, and one of them put King on a couch and palpated his stomach. Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News, "Jeff King drops out of Iditarod after emergency surgery," 4 Mar. 2020 Afterward, each student allegedly came up to palpate her muscle. Janelle Griffith, NBC News, "Student says Long Island professor sexually assaulted her in front of class, sues college," 27 Feb. 2020 For the spine, elaborate wooden racks would be used in conjunction with the surgeon’s body weight to palpate or stretch the patient. Jack Hartnell, Time, "The Medieval History Behind Our Halloween Fascination With Skeletons," 30 Oct. 2019 The doctor palpates her neck, peers into her throat, scopes her sinuses. Eliza Thompson, Cosmopolitan, "If I Stay Author Gayle Forman Shares an Excerpt From Her New YA Novel," 18 Jan. 2018 My body continues to buzz as the physician’s assistant palpates my breasts, now made of abdominal tissue surgically sewn into place. Bryna Siegel Finer,, "Five years after breast cancer, a survivor feels cut off from the care that kept her safe," 10 Jan. 2018 On Friday afternoon, using blue chalk paint, Stacy Levy plans to palpate a few sidewalks on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to visualize the path of a stream, now out of sight, that has been running since ancient times. Jim Dwyer, New York Times, "Tracing the Waterways Beneath the Sidewalks of New York," 11 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'palpate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of palpate

1837, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for palpate

probably back-formation from palpation, from Latin palpation-, palpatio, from palpare

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Time Traveler for palpate

Time Traveler

The first known use of palpate was in 1837

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Statistics for palpate

Cite this Entry

“Palpate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for palpate



English Language Learners Definition of palpate

medical : to examine (part of the body) by touching it


pal·​pate | \ ˈpal-ˌpāt How to pronounce palpate (audio) \
palpated; palpating

Medical Definition of palpate

transitive verb

: to examine by touch : explore by palpation

intransitive verb

: to use the technique of palpation

More from Merriam-Webster on palpate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for palpate

Britannica English: Translation of palpate for Arabic Speakers

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