tac·​tile | \ ˈtak-tᵊl How to pronounce tactile (audio) , -ˌtī(-ə)l \

Definition of tactile

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

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Other Words from tactile

tactilely \ ˈtak-​tə-​lē How to pronounce tactilely (audio) , -​ˌtī(-​ə)l-​lē \ adverb

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.

Examples of tactile in a Sentence

He not only had visual difficulties but tactile ones, too—witness his grasping his wife's head and mistaking it for a hat … — Oliver Sacks, New Yorker, 7 Oct. 2002 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 Perl, New Republic, 17 June 2002 The keyboard has good tactile feedback, and the touch pad is responsive without being too twitchy. — Bruce Brown, PC Magazine, 20 Feb. 2001 … nothing prepared me for the tactile reality of the original volumes, leaf after carefully written leaf over which his hand had travelled … — Edmund Morris, New Yorker, 16 Jan. 1995 Near midday the heat of the sun bounced up from the bare patches of soil to hit with an almost tactile force. — Edward O. Wilson, Smithsonian, October 1984 The thick brushstrokes give the painting a tactile quality.
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Recent Examples on the Web While there’s no substitute for the tactile joy of thumbing through a cookbook complete with glossy illustrations, podcasts can offer free, limitless access to recipe ideas and tips from experts and civilians alike. New York Times, "6 Podcasts to Feed Your Inner Gourmand," 28 Dec. 2019 But power-users, particularly those in creative fields or those that are especially tactile people, will want to invest in the second-generation Apple Pencil. Jeff Dunn And Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Guidemaster: Nine gift ideas for the tech enthusiast in your life," 13 Dec. 2019 For example, the back of a cell phone could be covered in artificial skin to sense unique user gestures like grabbing, twisting, and scratching to provide tactile feedback. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "Nobody Asked for Artificial Skin Phone Cases," 19 Oct. 2019 The place is so ancient, yet so tactile and present. Elaine Ayala, ExpressNews.com, "From Bethlehem to San Antonio, Guadalupe’s image is constant," 12 Dec. 2019 Each fingertip was equipped with sensors that communicated with a patch on his upper arm, providing tactile information about the object his robotic arm was holding. Sophie Bushwick, Scientific American, "New Virtual Reality Interface Enables "Touch" Across Long Distances," 20 Nov. 2019 The experience is interspersed with tactile sensations of wind, heat and water. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: La Jolla Playhouse’s Without Walls Festival rolls out a lively variety of offbeat work on opening day," 18 Oct. 2019 MüshMeez, a moldable, squishable stuffed animal, is one of those tactile toys that's gaining in popularity, according to Toy Insider. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, "Hot holiday toys: No breakout hits, but a handful of "wow" gifts," 25 Nov. 2019 Qi charging pads employ a few tricks to help users position their devices correctly, like visual and tactile design elements. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Guidemaster: The best Qi wireless charging pads for your smartphone," 15 Nov. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of tactile

1615, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tactile

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

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Time Traveler for tactile

Time Traveler

The first known use of tactile was in 1615

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Statistics for tactile

Last Updated

3 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tactile.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tactile. Accessed 26 January 2020.

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More Definitions for tactile


How to pronounce tactile (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tactile

formal : relating to the sense of touch


tac·​tile | \ ˈtak-təl How to pronounce tactile (audio) \

Kids Definition of tactile

: relating to the sense of touch


tac·​tile | \ ˈtak-tᵊl How to pronounce tactile (audio) , -ˌtīl How to pronounce tactile (audio) \

Medical Definition of tactile

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

Other Words from tactile

tactilely \ -​ē How to pronounce tactilely (audio) \ adverb



Medical Definition of tactile (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person whose prevailing mental imagery is tactile rather than visual, auditory, or motor — compare audile entry 1, motile entry 2, visualizer

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More from Merriam-Webster on tactile

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tactile

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tactile

Spanish Central: Translation of tactile

Nglish: Translation of tactile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tactile for Arabic Speakers

Comments on tactile

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


to express in a more acceptable way

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