non-pressing/-pushing poking

HanaPopo

Senior Member
Japanese
Is there a word for the action of tapping someone with a finger to gain their attention that is not so much as pushing or pressing on them? If "poke" implies a pressure/push, is there a verb for non-pressing/-pushing finger-tapping?
 
  • Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    We in AE would say "I tapped him on the shoulder." I'd specify the place that's tapped rather than what I'm tapping with, unless what I'm using to tap is especially significant.
     

    HanaPopo

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    What if it's a little girl, using one finger, and on the waist of her father speaking to someone on the phone? The girl's being timid because she doesn't want to disturb his conversation, but there's something important she has to tell him while on the phone. I guess the difference I'm trying to get at is the psychological nuance of a hesitant point contact (with a fingertip) versus a forthright surface contact (with multiple fingers or a palm). "Tapping" sounds to me like a surface contact rather than a point contact and relatively more forthright. The description I'm looking for would be to "tapping" what "poking" is to "pushing".
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Tapping someone on the shoulder does not normally involve “a forthright surface contact (with multiple fingers or a palm)”! It implies a light tap with one or two fingers.

    So tap is still the verb to use, although you might say, for example, “she gave him a light tap on the arm”. Otherwise, I can only think of “touch”.
     

    HanaPopo

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Tapping someone on the shoulder does not normally involve “a forthright surface contact (with multiple fingers or a palm)”! It implies a light tap with one or two fingers.
    I meant relatively more forthright and surface-like, to the extent that we can make the distinction.

    So, if the tapping is non-light, I might have to say "she gave him a hard tap".

    Otherwise, I can only think of “touch”.
    That can imply an unintentional contact. I'll just go with "tap", then.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    To tap by definition means to strike something or someone with a LIGHT blow or blows.

    And it’s completely untrue that the verb touch only implies unintentional contact. (On the contrary, “inappropriate touching” is quite an issue these days, and it’s certainly not about unintentional contact.)
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    She gently tapped her father's waist. When he didn't respond after several taps, she gave him a good poke.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    You can use a word like hesitant.

    She tapped him hesitantly on the waist.

    or timidly.
     
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