The Meaning of Touch Base: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of touch base? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the phrase touch base, including its definition, origin, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the phrase touch base mean?

According to Grammarly and Cambridge English Dictionary, the term touch base is an idiom that is used commonly in business contexts to mean to connect with, chat with, or check in with someone. Often, a salesperson or other forms of employees looking to make a sale to a customer will touch base with their prospects to see if they are thinking of purchasing an item. This term can also be used between old friends to check in if the last time they spoke was a long time ago. A businessman on a marketing team might make a brief phone-call to his coworkers or clients to continue his lines of communication. This is usually for a specific purpose: to make a sale, or to close a deal. This person might also send out touch base emails on a consistent basis to keep him top of mind for potential customers. These open communication channels may work to land sales, but many recipients find them annoying. This piece of business jargon or office jargon is often associated with idle chat between coworkers. It is often considered overused and annoying.

What is the origin of the term touch base?

According to Phrases and Merriam-Webster, the term touch base likely comes from the sport of baseball. In the game of baseball, the runner and the fielders have to touch a base on the ground in order to be safe and record an out. In American baseball, coaches huddle with their batters and other teammates. The term base, particularly home base, has come to mean a place of meeting. Therefore, the phrase touch base has come to mean to check in or make contact with someone. This phrase has been seen in business jargon throughout the 20th century. The current idiomatic usage of the phrase touch base suggests a meeting between two people. The idea of base meaning a home or headquarters gives way to the salesman or businessman “touching base”, i.e. returning to their headquarters to make contact with a client or colleague. This phrase may have also come from the terms touch bases, or touch basis, though there is little substantial evidence for either of these theories. Score a home run by knowing this idiom’s origin!

How can the term touch base be used in a sentence?

The term touch base can be used in many different contexts, both business and otherwise. In this first example, John works at a jeweler’s. A man came in looking for a diamond engagement ring, but John has not heard from him in over a week. He gives the man a call.

John: Hello, sir. It’s John from Your Favorite Jeweler. I just wanted to touch base to see if you were still considering purchasing the diamond ring we put on hold for you.

Man: Hi John. Thanks for checking in. My girlfriend and I actually broke up, so I don’t think I’ll be needing that ring. Sorry, you can release the hold.

John: No problem at all, sir. You have a nice day. 

Here, John uses the phrase touch base to mean check in. He checks in with the customer who put the ring on hold to see if he is still interested in making a purchase. John will do this for all of the customers who shopped but have not purchased anything. Next, John’s mother gives him a call after work. 

Mom: Hi Johnny, I just wanted to touch base on your sister’s graduation. Are you coming to Boston for it?

John: Yeah, I am. What specific day does she graduate? I’ll get off of work.

Mom: Sunday the 12th, next month.

John: Got it. Putting it on my calendar now. I’ll be there – give her my congratulations.

Here, John’s mom uses the phrase touch base to check in about Jojhn’s plans to attend his sister’s graduation. This is a very versatile term that can be used in a variety of different settings. While the phrase is often associated with pushy businessmen, that is not always the case.

What are synonyms for the term touch base?

There are many different words and phrases that one can use in place of the phrase touch base. Touch base is often thought to be overused, particularly in business settings. Therefore, it is useful to know synonyms for the phrase. Synonyms are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another given word or phrase. This list of synonyms for the term touch base is provided by Thesaurus

  • correlate
  • jabber
  • tack on
  • run on
  • tag
  • relate
  • prattle
  • consociate
  • gas
  • go on
  • bull session
  • hook on
  • hook up
  • renew communication
  • yap
  • interface
  • equate
  • gossip
  • visit
  • rap session
  • plug into
  • chew the rag
  • have a friendly chat
  • tie in with
  • wed
  • tag on
  • get into
  • network with
  • prate
  • chatter
  • blab
  • bridge
  • conjoin
  • fasten
  • conversation
  • cackle
  • burble
  • couple
  • unite
  • attach
  • yoke
  • marry
  • yak
  • jaw
  • associate
  • converse
  • affix
  • check in
  • palaver
  • hitch on
  • ally
  • rap
  • tie in
  • join up with
  • chew the fat
  • gab
  • tête-à-tête
  • come aboard
  • chat
  • span
  • meld with
  • heart-to-heart
  • talk tete-a-tete
  • cohere
  • hot air
  • babble
  • shoot the breeze
  • join
  • slap on

Overall, the term touch base is frequently used by contractors, salesmen, and other business people. This term means to check in or communicate with someone else. This is usually used to try and make a sale of close a deal. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/55/messages/146.html
  2. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/touch%20base
  3. https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/touch-base-idiom-meaning-usage
  4. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/touch-base
  5. https://www.grammarly.com/blog/touch-base/