— contactual /kon tak"chooh euhl/ , adj. — contactually , adv.
/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 .
9. to put or bring into contact.
10. to communicate with: We'll contact you by mail or telephone.
11. to enter into or be in contact.
12. involving or produced by touching or proximity: contact allergy.
[ 1620-30; 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.