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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Marketing social work's image requires tact and subtlety.
▪ The task of discovering whether an ageing individual has a drink problem requires considerable tact and sensitivity.
▪ It requires great tact and perseverance to make some people accept a coaching atmosphere.
▪ Simply to pass risks a sense of purposelessness; but the purposefulness of approach requires delicacy and tact.
▪ Helping people who have marriage problems requires a great deal of tact and patience.
▪ Teresa's skills as an editor and her tact with sensitive authors were respected within the department.
▪ The old woman thrust a picture of a plain-looking girl into Meryl's hand. "Your granddaughter? She's lovely," said Meryl with tact.
▪ Anyone else would have had tact enough to at least dress it up a little, she thought wryly.
▪ But few of the students were accustomed to thinking in critical terms; others, like Philip, were restrained by tact.
▪ But the social tact of the Masai was most impressively demonstrated by the fact that they rarely asked for anything.
▪ Even more important were his sensitivity, tact and diplomacy in an entirely novel situation.
▪ Important personal traits for funeral directors are composure, tact, and the ability to communicate easily with the public.
▪ Telephoning the elderly who live alone needs even more care and tact than talking with them in the course of a visit.
▪ They also need tact, good judgment, and the ability to establish effective personal relationships to oversee staff.
▪ Wullschlager tackles the crucial but opaque question of Andersen's sexuality with tact, resisting psychoanalytic facilities.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Tact \Tact\, n. [L. tactus a touching, touch, fr. tangere, tactum, to touch: cf. F. tact. See Tangent.]

  1. The sense of touch; feeling.

    Did you suppose that I could not make myself sensible to tact as well as sight?

    Now, sight is a very refined tact.
    --J. Le Conte.

  2. (Mus.) The stroke in beating time.

  3. Sensitive mental touch; peculiar skill or faculty; nice perception or discernment; ready power of appreciating and doing what is required by circumstances.

    He had formed plans not inferior in grandeur and boldness to those of Richelieu, and had carried them into effect with a tact and wariness worthy of Mazarin.

    A tact which surpassed the tact of her sex as much as the tact of her sex surpassed the tact of ours.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1650s, "sense of touch or feeling" (with an isolated instance, tacþe from c.1200), from Latin tactus "a touch, handling, sense of touch," from root of tangere "to touch" (see tangent (adj.)). Meaning "sense of discernment in action or conduct, diplomacy, fine intuitive mental perception" first recorded 1804, from development in French cognate tact. The Latin figurative sense was "influence, effect."


n. 1 The sense of touch; feeling. 2 (context music English) The stroke in beating time. 3 Sensitive mental touch; special skill or faculty; nice perception or discernment; ready power of appreciating and doing what is required by circumstances. 4 The ability to deal with embarrassing situations carefully and without doing or saying anything that will annoy or upset other people; careful consideration in dealing with others to avoid giving offense; the ability to say the right thing. 5 (context psychology English) A verbal operant which is controlled by a nonverbal stimulus (such as an object, event, or property of an object) and is maintained by nonspecific social reinforcement (praise). vb. (context psychology English) To use a tact (a kind of verbal operant; see noun sense).


n. consideration in dealing with others and avoiding giving offence [syn: tactfulness] [ant: tactlessness]


Tact or TACT may refer to:

  • The sense of touch – see somatosensory system
  • Tact (psychology), a term used by B. F. Skinner for a type of verbal operant
  • The Actors Company Theatre (TACT)
  • Actors Orphanage, formerly The Actors' Charitable Trust (TACT)
  • Tact Meyers, a Galaxy Angel character
  • The Adolescent and Children's Trust
  • Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy, an evaluation of chelation therapy for cardiovascular disease
Tact (psychology)

Tact is a term that B.F. Skinner used to describe a verbal operant which is controlled by a nonverbal stimulus (such as an object, event, or property of an object) and is maintained by nonspecific social reinforcement ( praise).

Less technically, a tact is a label. For example, a child may see their pet dog and say "dog"; the nonverbal stimulus (dog) evoked the response "dog" which is maintained by praise (or generalized conditioned reinforcement) "you're right, that is a dog!"

Chapter five of Skinner's Verbal Behavior discusses the tact in depth. A tact is said to "make contact with" the world, and refers to behavior that is under the control of generalized reinforcement. The controlling antecedent stimulus is nonverbal, and constitutes some portion of "the whole of the physical environment."

The tact described by Skinner includes three important and related events, known as the 3-term-contingency: a stimulus, a response, and a consequence, in this case reinforcement. A verbal response is occasioned by the presence of a stimulus, such as when you say "ball" in the presence of a ball. In this scenario, "ball" is more likely to be reinforced by the listener than saying "cat", showing the importance of the third event, reinforcement, in relation to the stimulus (ball) and response ("ball"). Although the stimulus controls the response, it is the verbal community which establishes the stimulus' control over the verbal response of the speaker. For example, a child may say "ball" in the presence of a ball (stimulus), the child's parent may respond "yes, that is a ball", (reinforcement) thereby increasing the probability that the child will say ball in the presence of a ball in the future. On the other hand, if the parent never responds to the child saying "ball" in the presence of a ball then the probability of that response will decrease in the future.

A tact may be pure or impure. For example, if the environmental stimulus evokes the response, the tact would be considered pure. If the tact is evoked by a verbal stimulus the resulting tact would be considered impure. For example, if a child is shown a picture of a dog, and emits the response "dog" this would be an example of a pure tact. If a child is shown a picture of a dog, and is given the verbal instruction "what is this?" then the response "dog" would be considered an impure tact.

The tact can be extended, as in generic, metaphorical, metonymical, solecistic, nomination, and "guessing" tact. It can also be involved in abstraction. Lowe, Horne, Harris & Randle (2002) would be one example of recent work in tacts.

Usage examples of "tact".

Camille had no other lovers--an astonishing thing in an actress of the kind, but being full of tact and wit she drove none of her admirers to despair.

Whenever I tried to make her talk about the captain she would change the subject of conversation, or evade my insinuations with a tact and a shrewdness which astonished and delighted me at the same time, for everything she said bore the impress of grace and wit.

Murray Undeceived and Avenged Tontine had what is called tact and common sense, and thinking these qualities were required in our economy she behaved with great delicacy, not going to bed before receiving my letters, and never coming into my room except in a proper dress, and all this pleased me.

Nevill Caird had too much tact to insist, though he was far from being convinced.

I suggested tactfully that she should allow Chubby to accompany me for the next few days, my tact and concern were wasted.

He tended towards worship over the four-foot fence, and she was sorry for him, an uncomfortable emotion, for Coode, like many noble fellows, had no tact.

She was right, and I could not help admiring the truly astonishing tact of this girl.

When her aunt introduced me to her by name, she observed with true feminine tact that during her stay at Aix she had seen me five or six times at the fountain, but that I could not remember her features as she had always worn her veil.

No introductions took place, and I read the tact of the witty hunchback in the omission, but as all the guests were men used to the manners of the court, that neglect of etiquette did not prevent them from paying every honour to my lovely friend, who received their compliments with that ease and good breeding which are known only in France, and even there only in the highest society, with the exception, however, of a few French provinces in which the nobility, wrongly called good society, shew rather too openly the haughtiness which is characteristic of that class.

He met the confession, which his son had made in pain and diffidence, with a most deplorable want of tact.

Such was her tact that Fanny emerged from the salon an hour later with the comfortable persuasion that so far from having been treated like a schoolroom miss her taste had been approved, and that the resultant creations would set her in the highest kick of fashion.

No one has ever denied that Denney must have employed a faultless, an incomparable tact, to bring J.

His chivalrous courtesy, his unerring tact, his kindly nature, his unselfish and untiring devotion to their interests have all endeared him to those rough loyal natures, who would follow him with as much confidence and devotion as the grognards of the Guard had in the case of the Great Emperor.

Baletti was fifteen years old, and her mother had brought her up with care, had given her the best masters, virtue, grace, talents, a good manner, tact, a knowledge of society-in short, all that a clever mother can give to a dear daughter.

I dined alone with my good fellow-countrywoman, and if I had felt myself capable of love at that period all my old affection would have resumed its sway over me, as her beauty was undiminished, and she had more tact and knowledge of the world than when I knew her formerly.