The 'touch' command in unix, linux, bsd and other variants allows to update the timestamp on files or if the file doesn't exist it creates a 0 size file.

I have been thinking a lot about touch lately, and I would say it gets weirder the longer you think, but that's not true. It's weird to start off with, and when you reach the conclusion that there is no one single conclusion to be reached, that is what's weird.

The aspect of touch that I refer to specifically, is started with a freakish interest in cold hands. If you touch an inanimate object, there is only one network of nerves the stimulus is sent through: yours. It's one sensation. The desk isn't feeling anything. The desk is not translating a nerve response into a feeling. You put your hand down, and your brain says "Hm, you say a hard, flat object? About level with your hip? Must be a table."

When your hand is cold, put it on your warm knee or arm. Your very own for this part. Your brain will tell you 'cold hands'. Right? Well, the truth is that there are actually two separate sensations that your brain is rapid-fire combining - (A) warm arm feels someting something cold touching it and (B) cold hand feels something warm under it. Again, one neural system, but this time there are two separate sensations. These two separate responses, incidentally, are really hard to separate. Want to try? Concentrate on your hand. Does it feel a solid warmth? Wait until it does, and then shift to focus on your arm. Does it feel the cold fingers? Shift back to the hand. For some reason the sensation of 'there is something cold touching me' is stronger in your arm than 'I am touching something warm' in your hand.

This may interest you only mildly, (if at all), but I find this fascinating for some bizarre reason: Is it because your hands are too cold to feel properly? I like to think that it's more than that. Is it because your cold hands are numb? Is it because cold is a more shocking sensation than warmth? Maybe it's because the touch gives more to the touched than it takes from the toucher. (That is so sappy) I don't know.

Touch someone else, and it's back to one sensation again. Only this time, it's two nervous systems, two networks processing the data. One for you. One for him. Two, but only one moment of contact.

I will shut up now.

Touch uses skin much as smell uses the nose. Your skin is the biggest organ of your body. It performs many important biological functions. It also provides sensual pleasure. Your skin can detect heat, cold, pressure, pain, and a vast range of touch sensations. Caresses, pinches, punches, pats, rubs, scratches, and the feel of many different textures, from cotton to a cactus.

How does touch work?
Tactile information is conveyed to the brain when an object touches and depresses the skin which stimulates one or more of the several distinct types of receptors found in the nerve endings. These sensitive nerve endings in the skin send the touch message through nerve connections to the spinal cord. This message travels up the spinal cord and through the brainstem and the lower brain centers, finally reaching the brain’s somatosensory cortex. You become aware of where and how hard you’ve been touched once the somatosensory has been activated. If you could examine the skin from the outermost to the deepest layer, you would find a variety of nerve endings. They differ widely in appearance. Almost all of these seem to, in some degree, respond to all different types of tactile stimulation. The more densely packed a part of the body’s surface with such sensory receptors, the more sensative it is to tactile stimulation.

We use touch to express our most intimate feelings. In the mid-1980s research established the importance of touch in human development. The research involved premature babies.

Touch gives us pleasure but also pain. Pain is a protective mechanism. If we do not feel pain we do not cease the activity we are doing that is causing us harm and can become severely injured.

touch

To touch ; to get money from any one; also to arrest.

Touched in the wind; broken winded.

Touched in the head; insane, crazy.

To touch up a woman; to have carnal knowledge of her.

Touch bone and whistle; any one having broken wind backwards, according to the vulgar law, may be pinched by any of the company till he has touched bone (i.e. his teeth) and whistled.

The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

Touch (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Touched (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Touching.] [F. toucher, OF. touchier, tuchier; of Teutonic origin; cf. OHG. zucchen, zukken, to twitch, pluck, draw, G. zukken, zukken, v. intens. fr. OHG. ziohan to draw, G. ziehen, akin to E. tug. See Tuck, v. t., Tug, and cf. Tocsin, Toccata.]

1.

To come in contact with; to hit or strike lightly against; to extend the hand, foot, or the like, so as to reach or rest on.

Him thus intent Ithuriel with his spear
Touched lightly.
Milton.

2.

To perceive by the sense of feeling.

Nothing but body can be touched or touch.
Greech.

3.

To come to; to reach; to attain to.

The god, vindictive, doomed them never more-
Ah, men unblessed! -- to touch their natal shore.
Pope.

4.

To try; to prove, as with a touchstone. [Obs.]

Wherein I mean to touch your love indeed.
Shak.

5.

To relate to; to concern; to affect.

The quarrel toucheth none but us alone.
Shak.

6.

To handle, speak of, or deal with; to treat of.

Storial thing that toucheth gentilesse.
Chaucer.

7.

To meddle or interfere with; as, I have not touched the books. Pope.

8.

To affect the senses or the sensibility of; to move; to melt; to soften.

What of sweet before
Hath touched my sense, flat seems to this and harsh.
Milton.

The tender sire was touched with what he said.
Addison.

9.

To mark or delineate with touches; to add a slight stroke to with the pencil or brush.

The lines, though touched but faintly, are drawn right.
Pope.

10.

To infect; to affect slightly. Bacon.

11.

To make an impression on; to have effect upon.

Its face . . . so hard that a file will not touch it.
Moxon.

12.

To strike; to manipulate; to play on; as, to touch an instrument of music.

[They] touched their golden harps.
Milton.

13.

To perform, as a tune; to play.

A person is the royal retinue touched a light and lively air on the flageolet.
Sir W. Scott.

14.

To influence by impulse; to impel forcibly. " No decree of mine, . . . [to] touch with lightest moment of impulse his free will," Milton.

15.

To harm, afflict, or distress.

Let us make a covenant with thee, that thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee.
Gen. xxvi. 28, 29.

16.

To affect with insanity, especially in a slight degree; to make partially insane; -- rarely used except in the past participle.

She feared his head was a little touched.
Ld. Lytton.

17. (Geom.)

To be tangent to. See Tangent, a.

18.

To lay a hand upon for curing disease.

To touch a sail (Naut.), to bring it so close to the wind that its weather leech shakes. --
To touch the wind (Naut.), to keep the ship as near the wind as possible. --
To touch up, to repair; to improve by touches or emendation.

 

© Webster 1913


Touch (?), v. i.

1.

To be in contact; to be in a state of junction, so that no space is between; as, two spheres touch only at points. Johnson.

2.

To fasten; to take effect; to make impression. [R.]

Strong waters pierce metals, and will touch upon gold, that will not touch upon silver.
Bacon.

3.

To treat anything in discourse, especially in a slight or casual manner; -- often with on or upon.

If the antiquaries have touched upon it, they immediately
quitted it.
Addison.

4. (Naut)

To be brought, as a sail, so close to the wind that its weather leech shakes.

To touch and go (Naut.), to touch bottom lightly and without damage, as a vessel in motion. --
To touch at, to come or go to, without tarrying; as, the ship touched at Lisbon. --
To touch on or upon, to come or go to for a short time. [R.]

I made a little voyage round the lake, and touched on the several towns that lie on its coasts.
Addison.

 

© Webster 1913


Touch, n. [Cf. F. touche. See Touch, v. ]

1.

The act of touching, or the state of being touched; contact.

Their touch affrights me as a serpent's sting.
Shak.

2. (Physiol.)

The sense by which pressure or traction exerted on the skin is recognized; the sense by which the properties of bodies are determined by contact; the tactile sense. See Tactile sense, under Tactile.

The spider's touch, how exquisitely fine.
Pope.

⇒ Pure tactile feelings are necessarily rare, since temperature sensations and muscular sensations are more or less combined with them. The organs of touch are found chiefly in the epidermis of the skin and certain underlying nervous structures.

3.

Act or power of exciting emotion.

Not alone
The death of Fulvia, with more urgent touches,
Do strongly speak to us.
Shak.

4.

An emotion or affection.

A true, natural, and a sensible touch of mercy.
Hooker.

5.

Personal reference or application. [Obs.]

Speech of touch toward others should be sparingly used.
Bacon.

6.

A stroke; as, a touch of raillery; a satiric touch; hence, animadversion; censure; reproof.

I never bare any touch of conscience with greater regret.
Eikon Basilike.

7.

A single stroke on a drawing or a picture.

Never give the least touch with your pencil till you have well examined your design.
Dryden.

8.

Feature; lineament; trait.

Of many faces, eyes, and hearts,
To have the touches dearest prized.
Shak.

9.

The act of the hand on a musical instrument; bence, in the plural, musical notes.

Soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Shak.

10.

A small quantity intermixed; a little; a dash.

Eyes La touch of Sir Peter Lely in them.
Hazlitt.

Madam, I have a touch of your condition.
Shak.

11.

A hint; a suggestion; slight notice.

A small touch will put him in mind of them.
Bacon.

12.

A slight and brief essay. [Colloq.]

Print my preface in such form as, in the booksellers' phrase, will make a sixpenny touch.
Swift.

13.

A touchstone; hence, stone of the sort used for touchstone. [Obs.] " Now do I play the touch." Shak.

A neat new monument of touch and alabaster.
Fuller.

14.

Hence, examination or trial by some decisive standard; test; proof; tried quality.

Equity, the true touch of all laws.
Carew.

Friends of noble touch .
Shak.

15. (Mus.)

The particular or characteristic mode of action, or the resistance of the keys of an instrument to the fingers; as, a heavy touch, or a light touch; also, the manner of touching, striking, or pressing the keys of a piano; as, a legato touch; a staccato touch.

16. (Shipbilding)

The broadest part of a plank worked top and but (see Top and but, under Top, n.), or of one worked anchor-stock fashion (that is, tapered from the middle to both ends); also, the angles of the stern timbers at the counters. J. Knowles.

17. (Football)

That part of the field which is beyond the line of flags on either side. Encyc. of Rural Sports.

18.

A boys' game; tag.

In touch (Football), outside of bounds. T. Hughes. --
To be in touch, to be in contact, or in sympathy. --
To keep touch.
(a) To be true or punctual to a promise or engagement [Obs.]; hence, to fulfill duly a function.

My mind and senses keep touch and time.
Sir W. Scott.

(b) To keep in contact; to maintain connection or sympathy; -- with with or of. -- Touch and go, a phrase descriptive of a narrow escape. --
True as touch (i. e., touchstone), quite true. [Obs.]

 

© Webster 1913


Touch, v. t.

1.

To compare with; of be equal to; -- usually with a negative; as, he held that for good cheer nothing could touch an open fire. [Colloq.]

2.

To induce to give or lend; to borrow from; as, to touch one for a loan; hence, to steal from. [Slang]

 

© Webster 1913


Touch, n.

1. (Change Ringing)

A set of changes less than the total possible on seven bells, that is, less than 5,040.

2.

An act of borrowing or stealing. [Slang]

3.

Tallow; -- a plumber's term. [Eng.]

 

© Webster 1913

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