I'm looking for a word to describe something that's harmful to touch. A word like corrosive or caustic, but without the implied danger itself (acidic, burning, etc.).

Something like: The surface of the floor is highly [word].


  • I don't think there is such a word. Otherwise, it would be used to describe poison ivy, and a little bit of Googling yields toxic and allergenic, but no word that means what you want it to. – Peter Shor Jul 18 '11 at 18:12

If you want words that don't identify the exact nature of the danger, deleterious, harmful, or injurious might do. I don't think there's a word that specifically and only means harmful to touch, though.


"Perilous" might be the closest to what you are looking for, but honestly I can't think of (or find in my trusty thesaurus) an English word that describes a generic "harmful to (the) touch" concept.

"perilous" is defined as "involving possible risk, loss, or injury", and thus not 100% touch specific - could be the floor (from your example sentence) might get up and slap you if you get too close, fully filling the promise of being "perilous"...

Same goes for "hazardous" and similar words.

Will be interesting if anyone comes up with the word you are looking for.

  • 1
    In an industrial environment where harmful surfaces abound, I think there would be a tendency to label them with specific icons meaning 'hot' or 'caustic', etc. OH&S consideration might require these, rather than a generic don't touch! message. – pavium Jul 18 '11 at 3:18
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    @pavium : Good point, the exact labelling of the danger(s) present helps first aid attendants and medical workers quickly decide what procedures to follow in taking care of the victim, and more importantly, how to keep safe themselves. I was (perilously) assuming the OP is looking for a literary reference... – Martin S. Stoller Jul 18 '11 at 3:45

Noxitanous: harmful and/or toxic to touch such as poison ivy. a shortening and suffixed form of the latin phrase “nocivis et tange” harmful to touch.

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