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Origin of contact

1620–30; <Latin contāctus a touching, equivalent to contāc-<*contag-, variant stem of contingere to touch (con-con- + -tingere, combining form of tangere to touch) + -tus suffix of v. action; cf. tango, attain

usage note for contact

Many verbs in English have derived from nouns. One can head an organization or toe the mark; butter the bread or bread the cutlet. Hence, grammatically at least, there is no historical justification for the once frequently heard criticism of contact used as a verb meaning “to communicate with”: The managing editor contacted each reporter personally. Despite the earlier objections to it and probably largely because there is no other one-word verb in the language to express the same idea, this use of contact has become standard in all types of speech and writing. Contact as a noun meaning “a person through whom one can gain access to information and the like” is also standard: My contact at the embassy says that the coup has been successful.

OTHER WORDS FROM contact

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use contact in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for contact

contact

noun (ˈkɒntækt)
verb (ˈkɒntækt, kənˈtækt)
(when intr, often foll by with) to put, come, or be in association, touch, or communication
interjection
aeronautics (formerly) a call made by the pilot to indicate that an aircraft's ignition is switched on and that the engine is ready for starting by swinging the propeller

Derived forms of contact

contactual (kɒnˈtæktjʊəl), adjectivecontactually, adverb

Word Origin for contact

C17: from Latin contactus, from contingere to touch on all sides, pollute, from tangere to touch
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for contact

contact
[ kŏntăkt′ ]

Electricity
  1. A connection between two conductors that allows an electric current to flow.
  2. A part or device that makes or breaks a connection in an electrical circuit.
Geology The place where two different types of rock, or rocks of different ages, come together.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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