209 Words To Describe Touch

Under your fingertips

You have to use the five senses when you write. Readers want to experience what your characters see, smell, hear, taste and touch. I find that touch is the sense that is most ignored by writers. I think it is often the most difficult to describe. Don’t leave it out. The sense of touch is so important because touch confirms that our eyes aren’t deceiving us. Readers identify with characters who engage with their worlds.

Description composed of sensory detail penetrates layers of consciousness, engaging your reader emotionally as well as intellectually… ~Rebecca McClanahan

Writing Tip: Beginner writers tend to confuse touch with feel. For example: I see the river, I hear the sirens, I feel confused. Should be: I see the river, I hear the sirens, I touch the jagged scar. Try and say touch whenever you can and you should avoid this problem.

Texture describes the way something feels when touched or eaten. It also describes the way something looks or feels because of the way in which it is made. For the purposes of this article, I want to concentrate on the first definition. I have put together a list of words that will help you describe what a character feels when he touches something with his fingertips or his skin.

The ABCs of Touch

  • Abrasive, Ample, Angular
  • Bald, Barbed, Bendable, Blemished, Blistered, Bloated, Blunt, Bristly, Broken, Bubbly, Bulging, Bulky, Bumpy, Bushy
  • Caked, Carved, Chafing, Chapped, Chunky, Circular, Clammy, Clean, Coarse, Cold, Cool, Corrugated, Cratered, Crenelated, Crocheted, Cushioned
  • Damaged, Damp, Dehydrated, Dense, Dented, Dirty, Distended, Distorted,  Doughy, Downy, Drenched, Dry, Dusty,
  • Embossed, Enamelled, Encrusted, Engorged, Engraved, Etched, Even
  • Fat, Feathery, Filmy, Firm, Flat, Fleecy, Flimsy, Fluffy, Fluted, Fragile, Freezing, Frigid, Frothy, Furry, Fuzzy,
  • Gelatinous, Glassy, Glazed, Glossy, Glutinous, Gnarled, Gooey, Gossamer, Grainy, Granular, Grating, Gravelly, Greasy, Grimy, Gritty, Grooved, Grubby
  • Hairy, Hard, Harsh, Hollow, Hot
  • Icy, Impenetrable, Imprinted, Indented, Inflated, Inlaid, Inscribed, Ironed, Irregular, Itchy
  • Jagged
  • Knitted
  • Layered, Leathery, Level, Limp, Lined, Long-haired, Loose, Luke-warm, Lumpy
  • Malleable, Metallic, Moist, Mosaic, Mushy
  • Narrow, Neat
  • Oily, Ornamented
  • Padded, Patterned, Pleated, Pliable, Pockmarked, Pointed, Pointy, Polished, Pot-holed, Prickly, Printed, Pulpy
  • Ragged, Rasping, Razor-sharp, Refined, Ribbed, Ridged, Rigid, Rough, Rubbery, Rusty, Rutted
  • Sandy, Saturated, Scalding, Scarred, Scored, Scraped, Scratched, Sculptured, Serrated, Shaggy, Sharp-edged, Sheer, Silky, Slick, Slimy, Slippery, Smooth, Soaked, Soapy, Sodden, Soft, Soggy, Soiled, Solid, Sopping, Spiky, Spiny, Spongy, Springy, Steely, Stiff, Sticky, Stubbly, Stuccoed, Sweaty, Swollen, Syrupy
  • Thick, Thin, Thorny, Throbbing, Tiled, Tough, Tweedy
  • Unblemished, Unbreakable, Uncomfortable, Uneven, Unyielding
  • Varnished, Velvety, Veneered, Vibrating, Viscous
  • Warm, Waterlogged, Wavy, Wet, Wide, Wiry, Withered, Woollen, Woven, Wrinkled
  • Yielding
  • Zigzag

We love the senses at Writers Write. We spend a lot of time helping writers perfect showing and not telling on our creative writing course. If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

Amanda Patterson by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on PinterestFacebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and Twitter. 

© Amanda Patterson

If you enjoyed this post, read:

  1. 20 Words Used To Describe Specific Tastes And Flavours
  2. Three Simple Ways To Show And Not Tell
  3. Five Ways To Use Setting To Advance A Plot


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22 responses
I just used "touch" a while ago, in regards to my deepest feelings. I had been touched profoundly by the outpouring of love shown to me.
Can we say gentle touch?
Can we say gentle touch?
I stand touched by your elaboration of wast scope of touchy expressions of the sense ....TOUCH
Hi,how adout sound
This is excellent. Thank you.
16 visitors upvoted this post.