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  • I. 1. a. The sense of touch; touch. In quot. 1809 transf. [So in L.; F. tact (14th c. in Littré).]
b. fig. A keen faculty of perception or discrimination likened to the sense of touch.
2. Ready and delicate sense of what is fitting and proper in dealing with others, so as to avoid giving offence, or win good will; skill or judgement in dealing with men or negotiating difficult or delicate situations; the faculty of saying or doing the right thing at the right time. [a. F. tact (Voltaire 1769).]
3. The act of touching or handling; an instance of this, a touch. Obs. rare. [So in L.]
  • II. 4. Mus. A stroke in beating time; = BEAT n.1 4: see also quot. 1891. [= (Germ.) L. tactus, Adam v. Fulda 1490; Ger. tact, Prätorius 1619.]
  • III. 5. Psychol. [Final element of con)tact.] B. F. Skinner's term for an utterance which is evoked by an object, event, etc., and reinforces the learning of a response. Hence as v. trans., to respond to (a stimulus) with an utterance; intr., to utter words or sounds in this way; so {sm}tacted ppl. a.; {sm}tacting vbl. n. Cf. MAND.


Tact is the fulcrum of social leverage, and tolerance is the earmark of a great soul.