My dad doesn't want me to touch alcohol before I turn 21.

Is it perfectly natural to use 'touch' here? I searched for it and found some examples, but not enough to make me sure.

  • 11
    Yes, I think it is natural. I guess the connection is here that touch means come/make/have contact with. Commented May 8, 2022 at 14:59
  • 4
    @user48, this is most likely an excerpt from the US where it is illegal to drink alcohol before age 21. The father does not want his child to have alcohol before they are legally allowed to.
    – Seth R
    Commented May 9, 2022 at 13:04
  • 4
    @SethR - while purchase and public possession of alcohol by people aged less than 21 are forbidden by federal law in the USA, the legal details for consumption vary greatly. While a few states completely ban alcohol usage for people under 18, the majority have exceptions that permit consumption. For example, in Wisconsin, persons aged 18 to 20 can legally drink at home or in a bar or restaurant with a parent, guardian, or spouse 21 or older. Commented May 9, 2022 at 14:03
  • 3
    @MichaelHarvey, yeah, it is complicated, but I wanted to keep the explanation simple.
    – Seth R
    Commented May 9, 2022 at 14:03
  • 2
    @SethR - you could just have written 'this is most likely an excerpt from the US where it can be illegal to drink alcohol before age 21 in some states.' Commented May 9, 2022 at 21:54

3 Answers 3


It is a form of clichéd hyperbole, but so natural and common that it may not be noticed as such. What the father literally wants is for the child not to drink alcohol. Drinking generally requires touching, but it is possible to touch without drinking. (The same father may sometimes tell the child, "Bring me a can of beer," and not think himself inconsistent.) The point is to make the prohibition exaggerated and emphatic -- don't even touch it (let alone drink it). A more extreme version would be, "Don't touch it with a ten-foot pole."

  • The father might even tell the child to use disincectants which contain mostly ethanol.
    – Jan
    Commented May 9, 2022 at 13:49
  • 2
    Technically, in the "Bring me a can of beer" case, he's touching the can, not the alcohol.
    – dan04
    Commented May 9, 2022 at 16:13
  • @dan04, but the same father might still not like it if the kid helped their friends carry their drinks, or otherwise facilitated drinking... Also, if we go by the technical sense of touching the can/bottle, that only works for unopened containers. After the drinking is done, the kid couldn't help clean up, as the containers could now have remains of the drink spilled on the outside. ;)
    – ilkkachu
    Commented May 10, 2022 at 7:18
  • 1
    I think there's also a slight implication to not get involved with it at all. ie. don't hang around friends/people that drink/bars/back alleys/etc
    – Aequitas
    Commented May 11, 2022 at 6:52
  • or a twenty foot rusty halberd Commented May 11, 2022 at 13:14

Yes, it is perfectly natural. Not to touch something can mean to avoid or reject it.


"I came in touch with alcohol at a young age"
"I came in touch with jazz during college"

Is a phrasing you more often see the use of touch in.

But your sentence is perfectly fine as well.
As shown in the second example, it does not have to be physical.

  • 22
    This answer is entirely off-base. Commented May 9, 2022 at 8:44
  • 7
    "I came in touch with alcohol" sounds like a humorous way of saying alcohol became a major part of their lives -- an important part of themselves that was missing before they discovered it. Like an unapologetic alcoholic. Very different sentiment. Commented May 9, 2022 at 15:30
  • It's not totally off base - it's just unclear as to what the relevance is. Commented May 9, 2022 at 17:31
  • 1
    @JounceCracklePop as in I came in touch with my inner alcoholic
    – fdomn-m
    Commented May 11, 2022 at 15:44
  • 1
    Aren't the meaning and use of "My dad doesn't want me to touch…" and "I came in touch with…" too different for useful comparison… or is that what JounceCracklePop meant? Commented May 11, 2022 at 17:00

You must log in to answer this question.

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