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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Palpation \Pal*pa"tion\, n. [L. palpatio, fr. palpare. See Palpable.]

  1. Act of touching or feeling.

  2. (Med.) Examination of a patient by touch.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

late 15c., from Middle French palpation, from Latin palpationem (nominative palpatio) "stroking, flattering, flattery," noun of action from past participle stem of palpare "to touch" (see feel (v.)). Used in English in literal sense.


n. (context medicine English) The act of feeling or pushing on various parts of a patient’s body to determine medical condition such as the normality of organs or the presence or absence of tumors, swelling, muscle tension, etc.


n. a method of examination in which the examiner feels the size or shape or firmness or location of something (of body parts when the examiner is a health professional) [syn: tactual exploration]


Palpation is the process of using one's hands to examine the body, especially while perceiving/diagnosing a disease or illness. Usually performed by a healthcare practitioner, it is also the process of feeling an object in or on the body to determine its size, shape, firmness, or location (such as a veterinarian would check/feel the stomach of a pregnant animal to ensure good health and successful delivery).

Usage examples of "palpation".

I felt my way up over the coronet to the fetlock and after some palpation I located a spot near the distal end of the metacarpus which was painful on pressure.

Helena blushing deeply at the results of my palpations and questioning.

For some tumours, the only guide to location and extent was plain old palpation.

The rest of the diagnosis relied on palpation (feeling you), tapping, external symptoms such as ulcers and rashes, and the appearance of various waste products.