adjective tac·tile \ ˈtak-tᵊl , -ˌtī(-ə)l \
|Updated on: 18 Jul 2018

Definition of tactile

1 : perceptible by touch : tangible
2 : of, relating to, or being the sense of touch


play \ˈtak-tə-lē, -ˌtī(-ə)l-lē\ adverb

tactile was our Word of the Day on 07/21/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of tactile in a Sentence

  1. He not only had visual difficulties but tactile ones, too—witness his grasping his wife's head and mistaking it for a hat … —Oliver SacksNew Yorker7 Oct. 2002
  2. There is a tactile and therefore somatic dimension to stroking the chalk that keeps the artist in constant, responsible and responsive touch with his emerging creation. —Jed PerlNew Republic17 June 2002
  3. The keyboard has good tactile feedback, and the touch pad is responsive without being too twitchy. —Bruce BrownPC Magazine20 Feb. 2001
  4. … nothing prepared me for the tactile reality of the original volumes, leaf after carefully written leaf over which his hand had travelled … —Edmund MorrisNew Yorker16 Jan. 1995
  5. Near midday the heat of the sun bounced up from the bare patches of soil to hit with an almost tactile force. —Edward O. WilsonSmithsonianOctober 1984
  6. The thick brushstrokes give the painting a tactile quality.

Recent Examples of tactile from the Web

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

Reach Out and Touch The Meaning of tactile

Tangible is related to tactile, and so are intact, tact, contingent, tangent, and even entire. There's also the uncommon noun taction, meaning "the act of touching." Like tactile, all of these words can be traced back to the Latin verb tangere, meaning "to touch." Tactile was adopted by English speakers in the early 17th century (possibly by way of the French tactile) from the Latin adjective tactilis ("tangible"). Tactilis comes from tactus, a past participle of tangere.

Origin and Etymology of tactile

French or Latin; French, from Latin tactilis, from tangere to touch — more at 2tangent

TACTILE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of tactile for English Language Learners

  • : relating to the sense of touch

TACTILE Defined for Kids


adjective tac·tile \ ˈtak-təl \

Definition of tactile for Students

: relating to the sense of touch

Word Root of tactile

The Latin word tangere, meaning “to touch,” and its form tactus give us the roots tang and tact. Words from the Latin tangere have something to do with touching. Something tangible is able to be touched. Contact is a meeting or touching of people or things. Something intact is unharmed, whole, and untouched. Anything tactile relates to the sense of touch.

Medical Dictionary



adjective tac·tile \ ˈtak-tᵊl , -ˌtīl \

medical Definition of tactile

1 : of, relating to, mediated by, or affecting the sense of touch
  • tactile sensations
  • tactile stimuli
  • tactile anesthesia
2 : having or being organs or receptors for the sense of touch


play \\ adverb




medical Definition of tactile

: a person whose prevailing mental imagery is tactile rather than visual, auditory, or motor — compare audile, motile, visualizer

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