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1620s, "action of touching," from Latin contactus "a touching," from past participle of contingere "to touch, seize," from com- "together" (see com-) + tangere "to touch" (see tangent).
Figurative sense of "connection, communication" is from 1818. As a signal to the person about to spin an aircraft propeller that the ignition is switched on, the word was in use by 1913. Contact lens is first recorded 1888; short form contact is from 1961.
1834, "put in contact," from contact (n.). Meaning "get in touch with" is 1927, American English. Related: Contacted; contacting.
contact con·tact (kŏn'tākt')
A coming together or touching, as of bodies or surfaces.
A person recently exposed to a contagious disease, usually through close association with an infected individual.
Of, sustaining, or making contact.
Caused or transmitted by touching, as a rash.