This article concerns physical and human touch. For other meanings, see Touch (disambiguation).

Touching is having or getting a zero distance; in geometry it refers especially to a tangent line or curve (cf. collision). This term can be used to describe interaction between any physical objects.

A more complex concept comes into play when the term is used in reference to human beings. Touch may simply be considered one of five human senses; however, when a person touches something or somebody this gives rise to various feelings: the perception of pressure (hence shape, softness, texture, vibration, etc.), heat, cold and sometimes pain. Thus the term "touch" is actually the combined term for several senses. Holding or moving something is usually done by touching (exceptions include blowing or using a magnet or engine), but this is sometimes done indirectly (e.g., with pliers).

Touching another person is a form of physical intimacy and plays an important role in human sexual behavior. It is also integral in physical abuse (striking, pushing, pulling, pinching, kicking, etc.).

Touching is a form of nonverbal communication.

Human babies have been observed to have enormous difficulty surviving if they do not possess a sense of touch, even if they retain sight and hearing. Babies who can perceive through touch, even without sight and hearing, fare much better. The implications are intriguing from an AI perspective. Touch can be considered a basic sense in that nearly all life forms have a response to being touched, while only a subset have sight and hearing.

One can also be emotionally touched. In this metaphorical sense it refers to some action or object that has evoked a sad or joyful emotion. For example, to say "I was touched by your letter" would not imply the reader were angered by it, but that he or she felt joy or sadness when reading it.

See also: frotteurism, grappling, massage, sexual harassment, tickling.


I needed so much/ To have nothing to touch/ I've always been greedy that way.. -Leonard Cohen, from The Night Comes On (1984)

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