I held the bee and [...] against my arm, to see whether it would sting me.

I can't think of any suitable word. And the Thesaurus only has synonyms that mean pressing harder.

  • 1
    The word that comes closest could be dab: "b. To press (something) lightly against an object or surface" (TFD). Does it work?
    – Kris
    Apr 22, 2015 at 5:41
  • I think "I held the bee to my arm, ..." or "I held the bee against my arm, ..." would convey the meaning.
    – Neil W
    Apr 22, 2015 at 6:34
  • The thesaurus link is on people or person working in communication. I.e "The press" meaning newspapers. No wonder you didn't find any suitable synonyms!
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 12, 2015 at 6:53

6 Answers 6


Are you looking for the word 'brush'? In the sentence you had given, the blanks would be filled in with [brushed it].


Some suggestions:

I held the bee to my arm to see whether it would sting me.


I pressed the bee gently against my bare arm to see whether it would sting me.


I think each of the following signifies a gentle approach.

"... and set it upon my arm"

Set: to place with care or deliberate purpose and with relative stability.

"...and touched it to my arm"

Touch: to bring a bodily part into contact with especially so as to perceive through the tactile sense : handle or feel gently usually with the intent to understand or appreciate.

"...and neared it to my arm"

Near: to come closer in space or time to someone or something.

"... and placed it upon my arm"

Place: to direct to a desired spot.



A close and affectionate (and often prolonged) embrace


Touch or stroke lightly in a loving or endearing manner


How about tap

"to hit somebody/something quickly and lightly"


He kept tapping his fingers on the table.


'Apply' means pressing just enough to put in contact, and your example will be:

I held the bee and applied it to my arm, to see whether it would sting me.

Usually, they apply remedies, like ice to a bruise. With the bee, the verb looks as weird as the action itself.

Apply on The Free Dictionary:

ap·ply (ə-plī′) v. ap·plied, ap·ply·ing, ap·plies v.tr.

  1. To bring into contact with something; put on: applied glue sparingly to the paper.

Usage examples:

vinylengine forum:

Don't press, just apply gently for just the time it takes to achieve a smooth round shape. Don't overdo it!

Biopharm Leeches

Applying Leeches

The animals should be applied in adequate numbers to the general area of maximal congestion. The head (or biting end) of the animal can be recognised by its searching movements, while the tail end is used mostly as a sucker for fixation. It is best to use the hungriest (normally the smallest) leeches first. Preferably do not use forceps forcibly on the leech.

  • 2
    Apply does not mean "press gently." It means to put something on, like glue. Your first example sentence, with the bee, makes no sense. Apr 22, 2015 at 3:32
  • @Steven Littman Really? What about this: Equipment Needed to Apply Leeches biopharm-leeches.com/applying.html ? Like a bee, leech is an insect, isn't it?
    – Oleksii
    Apr 22, 2015 at 3:39
  • 2
    @javaNoobs- you really can't "apply bees" you can apply creams, lotions, salves, glue, pastes, and because leeches stick like glue you can apply leeches, but gently brushing a bee against your arm to see if it stings would not be a proper application of apply. Generally when you apply something you expect it to remain there.
    – Jim
    Apr 22, 2015 at 4:41
  • @Jim Also you apply ice or wet towel to a bruise and keep holding it but it does not stick
    – Oleksii
    Apr 22, 2015 at 5:04
  • 1
    Yes, but when you apply an ice pack you hold it there because it does not stick.
    – Jim
    Apr 22, 2015 at 5:05

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