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 The pushbutton shifter should be a tactile delight, and instead its plain black plastic circles suffer in comparison to the system in a 1964 Dodge Dart. Elana Scherr, Car and Driver, "2020 Aston Martin Vantage Coupe Is More Than Just a Beauty, It's an All-Around Charmer," 23 June 2020 ElliQ doesn’t have the same tactile appeal as a fluffy seal, but its users have still become invested in the machine’s well-being during the pandemic. Kate Knibbs, Wired, "There’s No Cure for Covid-19 Loneliness, but Robots Can Help," 22 June 2020 The tactile joy that comes with building a set or making your own creation out of little plastic bricks uses sensory-motor skills that nurture a healthy and active body. Helen Bond, Dallas News, "‘Lego Masters’ star and Dallas software engineer Amie Dansby aims to smash STEM stereotypes," 5 June 2020 Their surge in popularity over the past decade has reflected much of what travelers were looking for pre-pandemic: tactile, local food experiences, and an immersive sense of community that could be found with a few swipes and a Google search. Lale Arikoglu, Condé Nast Traveler, "Food Halls Are More Promising Than Ever as Restaurants Reopen," 1 June 2020 Like a lot of government hospitals in India, Bapat’s facility is only partially accessible, which means that the most basic things like lifts are rare, and tactile floors, Braille signage and sign language interpreters are completely absent. Priti Salian, Quartz India, "Differently abled Indian healthcare workers fight a lonely battle against Covid-19," 8 May 2020 Covering Congress is a physical, tactile job that doesn’t lend itself to social distancing. Los Angeles Times, "Covering Congress amid coronavirus means masks, hallway contortions and apologies for the crying baby," 6 May 2020 Moreover, there is a newfound edge to the steering—a tactile precision that betters the 850 Turbo wagon's already exemplary feel. Arthur St. Antoine, Car and Driver, "Tested: 1995 Volvo 850 T-5R," 18 May 2020 But Italians are a gregarious, tactile bunch, and not everybody is sticking to the rules. Nicky Swallow, Condé Nast Traveler, "Italy Is Reopening in Bits and Pieces—Here's What It Feels Like," 12 May 2020

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

Time Traveler for tactile

Time Traveler

The first known use of tactile was in 1615

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about tactile

Statistics for tactile

Last Updated

27 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tactile.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tactile. Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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!