If you touch a balloon there is a dent created at your finger tip.

Now this word dent seems so rough. Like one has to use a lot of pressure to create a dent. Is there any proper word to replace it so the sentence seems like one doesnt have to use that much pressure at all.


5 Answers 5


The first Merriam-Webster definition of "dent" is

Verb. 1: to make a dent in, dent a car.

This sounds pretty rough for a balloon, and is a verb, but further down they say

Noun. 1: a depression or hollow made by a blow or by pressure.

So there is nothing wrong with using a dent to describe the depression in a balloon.

If you don't like the word dent you might accept hollow which seems more gentle (although it depends on how tightly the balloon was inflated). Another suggestion is indentation which also does not sound so "rough" as dent.


A part of a surface that is lower than the rest can be said to be depressed or indented, and the area thus created can be called a depression or an indentation.

depression noun (PRESS DOWN) ​ [ C ] a part in a surface that is slightly lower than the rest:

There was a depression in the sand where he'd been lying.


indentation noun (HOLE) ​ [ C ] a hole or mark on the surface of something:

The heels of her shoes had left indentations in the mud.


Slatter's Fundamentals of Veterinary Ophthalmology 5th Edition (2013, David Maggs, Paul Miller, Ron Ofri), page 99, gives a description, in ordinary educated language, of a technique used in animal and human medicine to measure the IOP (intra-ocular pressure) of an eyeball:

Indentation Tonometry

The Schiotz tonometer relies on indentation tonometry. In this method, a standard force is applied with a metal rod to a topically anesthetized cornea. The distance the rod indents the cornea is measured and is inversely related to the LOP (i.e., the greater the tonometer scale reading, the lower the patient's IOP). This concept is easily understood if the eye is regarded as analogous to a water-filled balloon. If the blunt end of a pencil is applied to the balloon with a given force (e.g., the weight of the pencil placed vertically), the pencil indents the surface of the balloon by a certain distance. If the pressure in the balloon is decreased (some of the water is let out), the tension in the rubber wall decreases, and the same pencil resting on the balloon indents it farther. Conversely, if the pressure in the balloon is increased, the same pencil indents it less. The Schiotz tonometer (Figure 5-40) consists of three parts: the plunger (analogous to the pencil), the footplate assembly (a device to measure indentation), and the handle. A further refinement is added: The weight applied to the eye through the rod may be varied by adding or subtracting weights (5.5 g, 7.5 g, 10 g, or 15 g). The greater the weight applied to the eye at a given IOP, the greater the penetration of the rod.

Slatter's Fundamentals

  • "Dimple" also works, if it makes a long-lasting impression.
    – Andrew
    Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 21:29
  • The depression exists while the balloon is being pressed, which accords with the original question. Also, an indentation is correct for a pressed balloon. Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 21:33
  • If you remove the pressure exerted by your fingertip on a balloon filled with air, no indentation remains.Ergo, indentation does not work here. Indentations remain on a surface after the fact; that's impossible for a balloon.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 13:53
  • Who says indentations have to remain? Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 14:47
  • The definition in the dictionary: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/… For instance: There were several small indentations in the surface of the table. Indentations are typically made in hard surfaces. That is the basic semantic trait of an indentation for that meaning. [Don't shoot the messenger.]
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 19:23

There's numerous examples on this website but a few that stick out are:

Dent: "A shallow deformation in the surface of an object, produced by an impact."


Bump: "A protuberance on a level surface."

If you read further on the website I think it can be seen that either word would be used appropriately quite easily.


Soft surfaces: depression, a lower spot that is made on a surface by a force, which may or may not remain when the force is removed. A finger would create a depression on the surface of the balloon.

  • pillow: indentation [it remains after you lift your head off of it]. Indentations remain when the pressure is removed. indentation on the surface of a freshly painted wall.

  • balloon: depression, a depression is created by your finger and then fills out again when you remove your finger.

  • Rock or wood: A hollow is left after the action of a force such as wind or rain since material is removed when there is a hollow. A hollow log: has no wood at its center. It has been eroded by water or bugs or time or a knife or I-don't-know what.

  • wood table, metal objects etc: Cars bumpers are easily dented. A dent is made on a hard surface, not a soft one. Some plastics can be dented too.

  • the ground: a depression: there is a depression in the grass.

Different terms are used for hard and soft surfaces, and they are not 100% interchangeable. I have given above the most usual which came to (my) mind.


If you touch a balloon lightly enough, it may not create a dent at all—but it could still leave a mark on it, such as a fingerprint, dirt, or other visible sign. (Also, any dent created will be quite temporary and disappear as soon as you remove your finger.)

A word that captures both an ephemeral dent and any other sign of having touched it once your finger is removed is impression:


2 : the effect produced by impressing: such as
a : a stamp, form, or figure resulting from physical contact

3 : the act of impressing: such as
a : an affecting by stamping or pressing


1 a : to apply with pressure so as to imprint
b : to produce (something, such as a mark) by pressure
c : to mark by or as if by pressure or stamping

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .