tac·​tile | \ˈtak-tᵊl, -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 , -​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

In my own experience, say, raising cattle, the rough, tactile feeling of being stuck in the mud or cutting your knuckles on a rope—those were more crucial to me than the idiosyncratic features of the landscape. Corey Seymour, Vogue, "Rough Animals Author Rae DelBianco on Breaking Bad, Raising Cattle, and Writing Her First Novel," 5 June 2018 In Fox Talbot’s work, the visual and tactile uniquely meet. Mark Feeney, BostonGlobe.com, "At Yale: on the threshold and under the volcano," 6 July 2018 These days simulations on screens have replaced such models, sacrificing some of their tactile value while gaining the ability to show movement. Veronique Greenwood, New York Times, "It’s Time for a Chemistry Lesson. Put on Your Virtual Reality Goggles.," 3 July 2018 Junior, who communicates with tactile sign language, said of the video and its wide viewership. Sarah Dilorenzo, The Seattle Times, "Brazil fan who is deaf, blind follows World Cup with help," 2 July 2018 Here the memories become more tactile and intuitive. Michael Phillips, chicagotribune.com, "Backed by Dylan and Roxy Music, a French master's 'Cold Water' revisits where his heart was in '72," 8 June 2018 During his meeting with the North Korean leader, Trump took a tactile approach, repeatedly shaking Kim’s hand and touching his arm. Washington Post, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump attacked Trudeau but ‘practically hugged’ Kim Jong Un, says French foreign minister," 13 June 2018 Lee and his team found tactile reminders of the victims’ lives: a driver’s license for a Leslie A. Whittington, a pair of children’s pajamas, a Barbie doll, and most disturbingly, a child’s foot. Mary Carole Mccauley, baltimoresun.com, "Fallen service members remembered at Memorial Day service at Dulaney Valley," 28 May 2018 For the mom who takes some pleasure in the tactile elements of sorting and scheduling, consider these items. Chloe Schama, Vogue, "Gift Ideas for the Mother Who Organizes It All," 10 May 2018

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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Statistics for tactile

Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tactile

The first known use of tactile was in 1615

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More Definitions for tactile



English Language Learners Definition of tactile

: relating to the sense of touch


tac·​tile | \ˈtak-təl \

Kids Definition of tactile

: relating to the sense of touch


tac·​tile | \ˈtak-tᵊl, -ˌtīl \

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 \ 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, motile, visualizer

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