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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Neither would say whether a tactile boss was a factor in their bear case. Carol Ryan, WSJ, "Ted Baker Gets a Bear Hug," 3 Dec. 2018 Knitting has been a wonderful way to channel my nervous energy into something tactile and physical. Talia Abbas, SELF, "11 Wellness Things Our Editors Tried and Loved This Month," 1 Feb. 2019 Robes and beards are easy enough to track down, but sword-like hilts that project concentrated beams of controlled, tactile light are still at least a few years out. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Hands-on with a $434 replica lightsaber: May the dork be with you," 25 Dec. 2018 If two-dimensional graphics and silhouettes make the best impact in a photo like this, trends like streetwear logos and pouf-sleeved, dramatic shapes will overtake sensual, tactile fashion. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "This Photographer Might Be the Most Influential, Unknown Woman at Fashion Week," 5 Sep. 2018 This is a great way for Amazon to integrate Alexa into a primarily tactile experience and subtly nudging users to call on Alexa more. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Echo Show 2018 review: Seeing is believing, and there’s a lot more to see," 8 Oct. 2018 Fans took to Twitter to praise Markle's tactile moment. Zoe Weiner, Glamour, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Were So Touchy-Feely at Today's Royal Engagement," 3 Oct. 2018 For De Bètoly, crocheting is like creating a tactile diary. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "French Designer Lou de Bètoly Will Crochet Anything, Even Shoes," 25 July 2018 William Gibson's play tells the famous story of how Sullivan shattered the isolation of a deaf, dumb, and blind Alabama girl, using tactile sign language to teach Keller the relationship between words and things. Richard Mcgill Murphy, Town & Country, "Desert Prep," 17 Dec. 2012

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tactile

Listen to Our Podcast about tactile

Statistics for tactile

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tactile

The first known use of tactile was in 1615

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tactile



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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on tactile

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tactile

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


standardized text or formulaic language

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!