1 historical A coin or medal presented as a token to a person touched by the English (or British) monarch as a cure for the ‘king's evil’ (scrofula). Compare "touch".
Under the Tudors, the angel came to be used for this purpose; after it ceased to be coined, specially struck coins and medals in gold and silver were used. The practice of touching for the king's evil, and consequently the distribution of touch pieces, was discontinued under the Hanoverians.
2That part of a touch-operated mechanism or device which is touched or pressed in order to activate or control it; a switch, push button, lever, etc.; (now only) each of the buttons or plates in the key mechanism of a wind instrument which are pressed by the fingers in order to open or close a key or valve and vary the pitch; that part of the key which is touched by the finger of the instrumentalist.
A musical composition for a keyboard instrument designed to exhibit the performer’s touch and technique; a toccata. Compare "touch", "touch".
Mid 18th century; earliest use found in The London Gazette. Partly from touch + piece.