Touch, feel, palpate, handle, paw can all mean to lay the hand or fingers or an equally sensitive part of the body upon so as to get or produce a sensation often in examination or exploration.
Touch usually stresses the act which leads to or produces the sensation or the resulting knowledge, but it does not invariably imply the act of placing a bodily part in contact with the object considered for it may suggest the use of an instrument which induces a specific sensation or produces another sensation (as that of sounds heard) or it may suggest an immaterial contact.
Feel stresses the sensation induced or produced; usually it suggests a sensation on the part of the person touching but may connote a sensation on the part of the one touched.
Although touch and feel often connote examination or exploration, they do not throw the emphasis on that end; on the other hand, palpate (as well as the noun palpation ), especially in medical use, stresses the feeling of the surface of a body, usually a human body, as a means of discovering the condition of organs that cannot be seen.
Handle (see also HANDLE TREAT ) implies a laying of the hands or fingers upon so as to get the feel of a thing, or a taking up into the hands so as to determine its qualities (as of weight, condition, or finish) by the sense of touch.
Paw implies a touching or stroking with the hand, often but not always involving the connotation of getting or stimulating a sensation; the term is often used when the action is clumsy or offensive.