I'm wondering if there's an (or more?) English expressions for the type of kiss where your lips barely touch the "kissed". It is a very gentle act, and it often occurs in highly emotional situations, thus it can occur between family members as well.

An example could be a lover moved by the beauty of his loved one, placing such a kiss on her shoulder. It could also be used in a situation where child kisses its mother's hand.

The expression in the title is a literal translation from the Hungarian expression.

  • 1
    If there's no contact at all, it's an air kiss, otherwise a perfunctory, light or fleeting kiss, for example. Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 17:33
  • 1
    Sometimes that type of kiss is described as "his lips brushed her forehead as they said their goodbyes", for example. You can see that in that case, the word kiss is not even used but the expression is understood to be a gentle, almost not-touching kiss. Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 17:50
  • Thank you, both answers are very helpful. Now that I think of it, the Hungarian expression doesn't necessarily mean that the lips are touching the kissed. However the original expression (the one that structures my thinking) is commonly used in emotional situations, therefore I would guess it is just a very-very light kiss, not an air kiss.
    – meghatas
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 18:13
  • Eskimo kisses are light touches using the nose. Not quite the same but worth looking into...
    – Neptunian
    Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 11:33
  • "Nuzzling" is nice and despite its origins, it's done with the lips as well as the nose.
    – Papa Poule
    Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 15:49

5 Answers 5


I have read a few 'brush of the lips' and a few 'whisper of a kiss' to signify a barely-there kiss. As said earlier, peck is also used, particularly Scotland, however this is slightly more contact between the two individuals, but still very brief.


Would 'tender kiss' be appropriate?

Edit: The reason being that 'tender' (as an adjective) means to be gentle or to treat delicately or to show affection.


  • 1
    Please explain why you think it would be appropriate. Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 12:01
  • I've edited my answer to help clarify the reason for my suggestion.
    – pb01
    Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 8:48

The affectionate familial kiss can easily be called a peck.

After repeating the word peck to myself aloud a few times just there it suddenly sounds off - but it is a common use word especially in Scotland.

"a peck on the cheek"


"He brushed his lips over her shoulder." "His lips touched her shoulder ever so lightly." are other options.


I don't have an actual source and I may be off target here but would "Butterfly Kisses" fit for an answer here?

  • Please explain why you think it would be appropriate. Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 12:01

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