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a touch of (something)

1. A small amount of something. She had a touch of grey in her hair, but otherwise you would never guess that she was nearly 60. There was a touch of hesitation in his voice. I'll just have a touch of wine with my meal, thanks.
2. A mild case of something (i.e., some illness or ailment). A: "Are you all right? You sound quite ill." B: "I'm fine, just a touch of bronchitis." It's just such a shame that she came down with a touch of the flu during her vacation.
See also: of, touch

finishing touch

The last detail added or change made to something to make it complete. Let's not spend too much longer on this. Let's just put the finishing touch on it and get it ready for production. He's been putting the finishing touches on that painting for so long now, I'm starting to think he'll never be satisfied with it.
See also: finish, touch

touch (on) a sore point

To evoke a strong and negative emotional reaction in someone; to do or say something that upsets someone in a deeply personal way. Your column must have touched a sore point with readers, because we are getting slammed with negative feedback. I could tell he was touching on a sore point, because Jane went deathly silent when he brought up her former employer.
See also: point, sore, touch

touch (on) a sore spot

To evoke a strong and negative emotional reaction in someone; to do or say something that upsets someone in a deeply personal way. Your column must have touched a sore spot with readers, because we are getting slammed with negative feedback. I could tell he was touching on a sore spot, because Jane went deathly silent when he brought up her former employer.
See also: sore, spot, touch

touch (on) all (the) bases

To include, make reference to, or take action on every desired or required element or aspect (of something). The essay touches all bases, but it doesn't do much to elaborate on them or introduce any new insights. For fans of the genre, the film touches on all the bases.
See also: all, bases, touch

touch (one) for (something)

To beg or wheedle something (usually money or food) as a handout from one. I could see old Tommy shuffling towards me, and I knew he was going to try to touch me for a few dollars so he could buy a drink. You can't just touch your parents for cash every time you're hard up.
See also: touch

touch (one's) forelock

To show excessive deference toward someone in a superior position. An allusion to the former act of pulling one's frontmost hair in lieu of having a hat to tip. I hate being in meetings with the CEO because then I have to witness all of the regional managers touching their forelocks like fawning sycophants.
See also: forelock, touch

touch (rock) bottom

To reach the lowest or worst point of a decline. Primarily heard in UK. I knew I had touched rock bottom when I missed my son's birthday party because I was so hungover. That's when I knew I needed to get help. Prices have been falling for weeks during the crash, but the economy has finally touched bottom.
See also: bottom, touch

touch a (raw) nerve

To evoke a strong emotional reaction, such as anger, sadness, or disgust, upon being encountered, heard, read, etc. Your column must have touched a nerve, because we are getting slammed with feedback from readers—and they're not happy. I could tell he was touching a raw nerve when he brought up Jane's former employer and Jane went silent for a moment.
See also: nerve, touch

touch a chord (with someone)

To elicit or trigger a strong emotional response to something; to be very poignant. Thank you for speaking, your words really touched a chord with me. The film still touches a chord with younger audiences, even after all these years. In my opinion, nothing touches a chord quite the same way music does.
See also: chord, touch

touch at (some place)

Of a sea craft, to drop anchor at some location. We decided to sail from Florida to New York, touching at Charleston, Beaufort, and Norfolk along the way. By the time we finally touched at port, our provisions were running dangerously low.
See also: touch

touch base (with someone)

To contact someone to update them or receive an update from them. I was just calling to touch base since it's been a few weeks since we last spoke. Will you please touch base with the marketing team and find out how they're progressing?
See also: base, touch

touch down

To land; to make contact with the ground. We couldn't touch down due to ice on the runway. The storm is expected to touch down sometime around 2 AM.
See also: down, touch

touch off

1. To start a fire or detonate an explosive device. He touched off the firework just as the school assembly was about to begin. Don't smoke in here! You might touch off the dry hay.
2. By extension, to trigger or initiate a reaction. A noun or pronoun can be used between "touch" and "off." Our teacher is so high-strung that the slightest provocation touches him off. The announcement touched off a riot in downtown Los Angeles.
See also: off, touch

touch on (something)

To discuss or deal with some topic informally or in passing. We'll touch on that matter later in the meeting, so let's stay focused on the issue at hand. She touched on the problem, but she didn't get a chance to explain exactly what had happened. The movie touches on themes of loneliness and grief, but doesn't make them the central focus of the characters.
See also: on, touch

touch to (something)

1. To bring something into physical contact with something else. A noun or pronoun is used between "touch" and "to." If you touch each metal wire to the ends of the battery, you create an electrical current. The psychic touched the sealed envelope to his forehead and claimed to know what the letter inside said.
2. To touch someone with one's hands in order to do or communicate something. A noun or pronoun is used between "touch" and "to." I touched his shoulder to let him know I sympathized with him. The doctor touched the injured man to make sure he was still breathing.
3. To affect someone at some deep, emotional level. Often followed by "the quick," "the/someone's core," "the/someone's soul," etc. A noun or pronoun is used between "touch" and "to." I can't even look at her right now. That hurtful remark she made touched me right to the quick. The haunting melody touched me right to my soul. It's a harrowing story that is sure to touch audiences to their cores.
See also: touch

touch up

1. verb To fix minor flaws in or make minor changes to something. A noun or pronoun can be used between "touch" and "up." I'd just like to touch up my makeup before we leave. All you need to do is touch the wall up with a bit of spackle and paint, and it will be as good as new!
2. noun A minor change or fix. As a noun, the phrase is usually hyphenated. The cover is almost ready, it just needs a few touch-ups before we send it to the printer.
See also: touch, up

touch with (something)

1. To bring something into light contact with someone or something. A noun or pronoun is used between "touch" and "with." He touched the electric fence with his bare hand and got an awful shock from it. A: "Here, let me wipe that muck off your face." B: "Blech! Please don't touch me with that disgusting handkerchief!"
2. To affect someone at a deep, emotional level with some action, performance, words, etc. A noun or pronoun is used between "touch" and "with." You really touched me with your kind words at the ceremony today. She was touched with the way the community rallied around her during the crisis.
See also: touch


Used to acknowledge that the other person's retort, counterpoint, or repartee was especially appropriate or well made. From French, literally, "touched," used in fencing to acknowledge that a scoring hit has been made. A: "You don't have a driver's license? How lame." B: "Hey, at least I don't still live in my parents' basement." A: "Touché." A: "Look, we wouldn't be so behind schedule if you hadn't changed the design specs at the very last minute!" B: "OK, touché. I guess I was partly responsible."
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

finishing touch(es)

a final adjustment of something; some effort or action that completes something. Norm is in his workshop putting the finishing touches on his latest project.
See also: finish, touch

touch down

[for an airplane] to come in contact with the ground; to land. Flight twelve is due to touch down at midnight. When will this plane touch down?
See also: down, touch

touch someone or something off

Fig. to ignite or excite someone or something; to excite anger or chaos. She is very excitable. The slightest thing will touch her off. The appearance of the fox touched off a furor in the henhouse.
See also: off, touch

touch something up

to fix up the minor flaws in something; to repair a paint job on something. It's only a little scratch in the finish. We can touch it up easily. Tom touched up the scrape with a little paint.
See also: touch, up
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

finishing touch

A small change or addition that serves to complete something. For example, The room still needed a few finishing touches, such as a flower arrangement. This expression is sometimes put as a finishing stroke. [c. 1700]
See also: finish, touch

touch down

Land on the ground, as in The spacecraft touched down on schedule. This idiom was first recorded in 1935.
See also: down, touch

touch off

1. Cause to explode or fire; also, initiate, trigger. For example, The boys touched off a whole line of firecrackers, or These disclosures will touch off a public uproar. This idiom comes from early firearms, which were set off by putting a light to the touch-hole. Its figurative use dates from the late 1800s.
2. Depict very precisely, as in He touched off Teddy Roosevelt as well as it's ever been done. [Mid-1700s]
See also: off, touch

touch up

Make minor changes or improvements, as in This wall needs some touching up but not complete repainting. [Early 1700s]
See also: touch, up
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

touch down

To make contact with the ground; land: The tornado touched down in a remote area.
See also: down, touch

touch off

1. To cause something to explode or rapidly ignite: The spark touched off the puddle of fuel. A cigarette from a passing motorist touched the dry grass off and started a forest fire.
2. To trigger something; initiate something: Investigators wondered what could have touched the fire off. The news of the scandal touched off a public uproar.
See also: off, touch

touch up

To improve something by making minor corrections, changes, or additions: I touched up the nicks in the paint to prevent the metal from rusting. The author touched an old essay up and submitted it for publication.
See also: touch, up
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
See also:
References in classic literature ?
*God has given it to me, let him who touches it beware!
The first of these touches conveyed that the written statement took up the tale at a point after it had, in a manner, begun.
It is the shadow of pain which touches the young face with such pathetic patience, but Beth seldom complains and always speaks hopefully of `being better soon'.
"There, now, that'll do," she said, taking up a hair-brush; "now for a few fancy touches."
One day, however, Monsieur Stangerson, as he was leaving the Academy of Science, announced that the marriage of his daughter and Monsieur Robert Darzac would be celebrated in the privacy of the Chateau du Glandier, as soon as he and his daughter had put the finishing touches to their report summing up their labours on the "Dissociation of Matter." The new household would install itself in the Glandier, and the son-in-law would lend his assistance in the work to which the father and daughter had dedicated their lives.
* NOTE.--Wherever the Report touches on the events of the birthday, or of the three days that followed it, compare with Betteredge's Narrative, chapters viii.
His features were so entirely destitute of expression that I could not help saying to myself--helplessly, as if in the clutches of a night-mare-- "they are only penciled in: no final touches as yet!" And he had a way of ending every sentence with a sudden smile, which spread like a ripple over that vast blank surface, and was gone in a moment, leaving behind it such absolute solemnity that I felt impelled to murmur "it was not he: it was somebody else that smiled!"
Here, in the foreground, a few clear touches are not amiss: but a back-ground without mist, you know!
You don't know what you mean any more than the cat does, but the sentiment seems to imply a proper spirit on your part, and generally touches her feelings to such an extent that if you are of good manners and passable appearance she will stick her back up and rub her nose against you.
Vanity is one of those touches of nature that make the whole world kin.
Now, there are these two curious touches of human nature working the secret springs of this dialogue.
In the vignettes and other embellishments of some ancient books you will at times meet with very curious touches at the whale, where all manner of spouts, jets d'eau, hot springs and cold, Saratoga and Baden-Baden, come bubbling up from his unexhausted brain.
discoloring and disfiguring whatever it represents, and transforming everything it touches into a monster.
But the scullery you would not care to see; it is greasy, dirty, and odoriferous, while the stairs are in rags, and the walls so covered with filth that the hand sticks fast wherever it touches them.
"And your majesty touches precisely the question," replied Athos, "for without the miracle of which I have had the honor to speak, General Monk would probably have remained an implacable enemy of Charles II.