/kon"takt/, n.1. the act or state of touching; a touching or meeting, as of two things or people.2. immediate proximity or association.3. an acquaintance, colleague, or relative through whom a person can gain access to information, favors, influential people, and the like.4. Elect. a junction of electric conductors, usually metal, that controls current flow, often completing or interrupting a circuit.5. Geol. the interface, generally a planar surface, between strata that differ in lithology or age.6. Med. a person who has lately been exposed to an infected person.7. Sociol. a condition in which two or more individuals or groups are placed in communication with each other. Cf. categoric contact, primary contact, secondary contact, sympathetic contact.8. See contact lens.v.t.9. to put or bring into contact.10. to communicate with: We'll contact you by mail or telephone.v.i.11. to enter into or be in contact.adj.12. involving or produced by touching or proximity: contact allergy.[1620-30; < L contactus a touching, equiv. to contac- < *contag-, var. s. of contingere to touch (con- CON- + -tingere, comb. form of tangere to touch) + -tus suffix of v. action; cf. TANGO, ATTAIN]Usage. Many verbs in English have derived from nouns. One can head an organization or toe the mark; butter the bread or bread the cutlet. Hence, grammatically at least, there is no historical justification for the once frequently heard criticism of CONTACT used as a verb meaning "to communicate with": The managing editor contacted each reporter personally.Despite the earlier objections to it and probably largely because there is no other one-word verb in the language to express the same idea, this use of CONTACT has become standard in all types of speech and writing. CONTACT as a noun meaning "a person through whom one can gain access to information and the like" is also standard: My contact at the embassy says that the coup has been successful.
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