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I am asking a verb for the following scenario:

"I _______ (tap lightly) a piece of adhesive tape on the sample (to make insects stick onto it), and examine it (and the insects on it) under the lens of a microscope."

Is there a more idiomatic verb for the italic part?

  • 'tap' or 'tap lightly' does not seem to be quite the right word for what you want to say, you may 'stick' or 'affix' a piece of adhesive tape to the sample, but you would not normally 'tap' it. Could you please clarify what you want to say? – Lee Leon Sep 21 '17 at 13:04
  • Touch briefly and lightly the piece of adhesive tape, so that the little protist animals present in the (for example) sample of pond water may be stuck on the tape without being harmed. Afterwards, I shall place them on a piece of glass slide, and observe them by a microscope. – Aminopterin Sep 21 '17 at 13:13
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    I agree, "tap" is not the right idea here. You need something more like "apply". Since you're talking about tape, you could also use "stick". – R Mac Nov 20 '17 at 21:14
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pat From Collins English Dictionary:

If you pat something or someone, you tap them lightly, usually with your hand held flat. ...........

a quick, gentle tap, touch, or stroke with the hand or some flat object.

Although this definition and most definitions refer to using the hand held flat, or the palm of the hand, one can pat something, especially something that is small, with the tip of a finger.

I pat a piece of adhesive tape on the sample with the tip of my finger (to make insects stick onto it), and examine it (and the insects on it) under the lens of a microscope.

In your example, you can leave out "with the tip of my finger" if you want, or, if you don't use your finger, replace that phrase with what you do use, for example "..with a Q-tip..."

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The best word I can think of is dab, although usually it connotes something absorbent rather than something sticky. For example, you might dab iodine onto a wound.

  • So if you are allowed to completely rewrite the original phrase, how will you write? – Aminopterin Sep 21 '17 at 16:27
  • Well, I probably would just use 'dab'. 'Pat' is okay too, but for me it suggests something more forceful. 'Dab' is good because it often describes a very delicate or careful tap to something sensitive like the eyes, or a painful wound. – sjy Sep 21 '17 at 22:02
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Given the context (of using adhesive tape), how about "pressed" or "lightly pressed"?

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