talk to sheldon
( P ) Pronunciation
- A coming together or touching, as of objects or
- The state or condition of touching or of immediate
proximity: Litmus paper turns red on contact with an acid.
- Connection or interaction; communication: still
in contact with my former employer.
- Visual observation: The pilot made contact with
- Association; relationship: came into contact with
new ideas at college.
- A person who might be of use; a connection: The reporter met
with her contact at the mayor's office.
- A connection between two conductors that permits a flow
of current or heat.
- A part or device that makes or breaks such a
- Medicine. A person recently exposed to a contagious
disease, usually through close association with an infected
- A contact lens.
Usage Note: The verb contact is a classic
example of a verb that was made from a noun and of a new usage that
was initially frowned upon. The noun meaning “the state or condition
of touching” was introduced in 1626 by Francis Bacon. Some 200 years
later it spawned a verb meaning “to bring or place in contact.” This
sense of the verb has lived an unremarkable life in technical
contexts. It was only in the first quarter of the 20th century that
contact came to be used to mean “to communicate with,” and soon
afterward the controversy began. Contact was declared to be
properly a noun, not a verb, and moreover to be vague when used as a
verb. However, turning nouns into verbs is one of the most frequent
ways in which new verbs enter English. Sometimes there is resistance
to such verbs, but often, especially when a term seems free of
association with the jargon of business or bureaucracy, acceptance
comes more freely, as with curb, date, elbow, interview, panic,
and park. Contact is but another instance of what linguists
call functional shift from one part of speech to another. As
for the vagueness of contact, this seems a virtue in an age in
which forms of communication have proliferated. The sentence We
will contact you when the part comes in allows for a variety of
possible ways to communicate: by mail, telephone, computer, or fax.
·Despite the lengthy history of disapproval of contact by
language critics, the verb's usefulness and popularity appear to have
worn down resistance to it. In 1969, only 34 percent of the Usage
Panel accepted the use of contact as a verb, but in a recent
survey 65 percent of the Panel accepted it in the sentence She
immediately called an officer at the Naval Intelligence Service, who
in turn contacted the FBI. See Usage Note at