I have an application to write where a tree is touching an electric wire. Please suggest a suitable word.


5 Answers 5


You're looking for the word 'tap'.

This is how the Cambridge dictionary defines it:

Tap: To hit something gently, and often repeatedly, especially making short, sharp noises.

Example: The branches tapped against the window.


Brushing is the word.

Due to the wind the tree's branch kept Brushing against the power line. The consequences could be easily anticipated and much dreaded. I find no dictionary definition takes into consideration the physical conditions involved since the conditions do not change during the storm until the disaster.

The repeated Brushing of the branch on the power line is what causes the eventual problem.

  • That's precise!
    – user392935
    Aug 16, 2020 at 4:58
  • I thought of this as an answer — I rather liked it — but I couldn’t find any applicable dictionary definition that conveyed repeatedly. Prove me wrong by adding a dictionary definition. Aug 16, 2020 at 12:30
  • @RichardKayser The present participle strongly implies repetition for any action that takes a very short period of time to complete. If something only takes a second, for instance, the present participle would normally not be used to describe it—because it would be over in the time it took to describe it. Aug 17, 2020 at 9:11
  • @JasonBassford Note that the answer uses the work kept. Also, which dictionary definition would you use? Aug 17, 2020 at 12:34

Trees sway in the wind, and when near electrical lines, they can beat those lines like waves beat the shore. From M-W:

sway: the action or an instance of swaying or of being swayed : an oscillating, fluctuating, or sweeping motion

beat: to strike directly against forcefully and repeatedly

The oscillatory motion of a swaying tree could cause it to beat a nearby electrical line, i.e., to strike directly against it forcefully and repeatedly.

  • Sway doesn't imply any contact. (Also, "the oscillatory swaying"?)
    – nnnnnn
    Aug 15, 2020 at 23:59
  • @nnnnnn Thanks for the comments. I've revised the answer. Aug 16, 2020 at 3:11
  • As a musician I can certainly vote for beat.
    – nnnnnn
    Aug 16, 2020 at 5:38
  • @nnnnnn Thanks. That means a lot, given your well-developed critical faculties here on ELU. What kind of musician? Aug 16, 2020 at 12:32

the branch "flapped" against/on the wire?


A possibility is click:

1 : to strike, move, or produce with a click
// clicked his heels together

Using the present participle conveys the sense of repetition:

She heard the tree branches clicking against the electrical wire.

  • A tree branch striking an electric wire is more likely to produce a muted sound; Click, on the other hand, is a sharp sound.
    – user392935
    Aug 15, 2020 at 14:43
  • @Stockfish Perhaps, but it also depends on context. There would certainly be a lot of sharp sounds occurring between tree branches and electrical wires during an ice storm, for instance. Aug 15, 2020 at 14:55
  • "clicking" refers to a bistable system rapidly transitioning to a different stable state. Aug 17, 2020 at 5:21
  • @Acccumulation Is that what I do when I click my mouse button, click my fingers against my table, or click my tongue against the roof of my mouth? Aug 17, 2020 at 9:09

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