What does Tactile Mean?

Posted on August 08 2016

What does Tactile Mean?



Everything we touch has a tactile quality. Is it soft, smooth, furry? These are just a few examples of the textures that translate into tactile experiences.


Dictionaries define the word tactile as:

  • Relating to the sense of touch
  • That which is touched to be perceived
  • Designed to be experienced by touching

The word dates back to the Latin word tangere, meaning “to touch”, and its form, tactus. The roots tang and tact are found in the words tangible, contact and intact.


Powerful feeling in our fingertips:

We decided to research just how many nerve endings are in our fingertips. What we learned is that our fingertips are the densest area of receptors in the whole body, containing 2500 feeling receptors per centimeter squared. As a centimeter is .393 inches, that’s a powerful amount of feeling in just the tip of one finger!

Tactile Hand

Being human is tactile reality:

Our human existence is a tactile reality, all of our senses inform, as tactile experiences are not limited to that which we touch with our hands. Our many layers of skin contain receptors that inform us about vibration, pressure, and texture, receptors that inform us about temperature, and receptors that inform us about pain. They are all inter-related and this is but a tiny fraction of information, as our brains process the information upon being touched by our senses.

tactile wool on skin

Consider these examples:

  • Cool wind blows - hair on our arms stands up – goose bumps – a tactile experience.
  • We view a painting with thick brush-strokes - it has tactile quality.
  • We walk through tall grass - experience a tickling texture of the blades on our skin.

Those who are blind rely on tactile senses to read. Ceramic artists become one with clay through touch, woodworkers chose materials based on texture and tactile qualities.


Textiles And Fabric

Textile designers use sensory perception to analyze the qualities in fiber and yarns. This determines the best end use for that fiber. Smooth fibers might be used for clothing that is worn close to the body. Coarse fibers can be used in carpets.

blog tactile

Is it a soft and luxurious natural fiber? Does it create a feeling of comfort upon being touched? That’s a Brahms Mount Blanket or Throw! Brahms Mount fabrics are designed for the tactile experience, translating into a practical experience and a feeling of wellbeing, hence, an entirely gratifying sensory experience.

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