a keen sense of what to say or do to avoid giving offense; skill in dealing with difficult or delicate situations.
a keen sense of what is appropriate, tasteful, or aesthetically pleasing; taste; discrimination.
touch or the sense of touch.

Origin of tact

1150–1200; < Latin tāctus sense of touch, equivalent to tag-, variant stem of tangere to touch + -tus suffix of v. action
Can be confusedtack tact track tracttacks tax

Synonyms for tact

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tact

Contemporary Examples of tact

Historical Examples of tact

  • But there he had the tact to remain in the car, and Mrs. McKee's peace with Tillie was made alone.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • "Oh, I guess it wouldn't hurt them," said Yates, with a lack of tact that was not habitual.

  • In the strength of that conviction he committed a fault of tact.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • Pete considered that he was behaving with great discernment and tact.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • He was agreeable, too agreeable; he certainly had not bad manners, but he was deficient in tact.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

British Dictionary definitions for tact



a sense of what is fitting and considerate in dealing with others, so as to avoid giving offence or to win good will; discretion
skill or judgment in handling difficult or delicate situations; diplomacy
Derived Formstactful, adjectivetactfully, adverbtactfulness, nountactless, adjectivetactlessly, adverbtactlessness, noun

Word Origin for tact

C17: from Latin tactus a touching, 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

Word Origin and History for tact

1650s, "sense of touch or feeling" (with an isolated instance from c.1200), from Latin tactus "touch, feeling, handling, sense of touch," from root of tangere "to touch" (see tangent). Meaning "sense of "discernment, diplomacy, etc." first recorded 1804, from a sense that developed in French cognate tact.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper