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feel (v.)

Old English felan "to touch or have a sensory experience of; perceive, sense (something)," in late Old English "have a mental perception," from Proto-Germanic *foljanan (source also of Old Saxon gifolian, Old Frisian fela, Dutch voelen, Old High German vuolen, German fühlen "to feel," Old Norse falma "to grope"), which is of uncertain origin, possibly from a PIE *pal- "to touch, feel, shake, strike softly" (source also of Greek psallein "to pluck" the harp), or from PIE root *pel- (5) "to thrust, strike, drive."

In Germanic languages, the specific word for "perceive by sense of touch" has tended to evolve to apply to the emotions. The connecting notion might be "perceive through senses which are not referred to any special organ." Sense of "be conscious of a tactile sensation, sense pain, pleasure, illness, etc.; have an emotional experience or reaction," developed by c. 1200, also "have an opinion or conviction;" that of "to react with sympathy or compassion" is from mid-14c. Meaning "to try by touch" is from early 14c. From late 14c. as "know (something) beforehand, to have foreknowledge of." To feel like "want to" attested from 1829.

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feel (n.)
early 13c., "sensation, understanding," from feel (v.). Meaning "action of feeling" is from mid-15c. That of "sensation produced (by an object, surface, etc.)" is from 1739. Slang sense of "a sexual grope" is from 1932; from verbal phrase to feel (someone) up (1930).
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felt (v.2)
past tense and past participle of feel (v.).
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unfelt (adj.)
1580s, from un- (1) "not" + past participle of feel (v.).
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feeling (adj.)
c. 1400, "pertaining to the physical senses, sensory," present-participle adjective from feel (v.). Related: Feelingly.
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heart-felt (adj.)
also heartfelt, "profoundly felt, deep, sincere," 1734, from heart (n.) + past tense of feel (v.).
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feeler (n.)
early 15c., "one who feels," agent noun from feel (v.). Of animal organs, 1660s. Transferred sense of "proposal put forth to observe the reaction it gets" is from 1830. Related: Feelers.
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feeling (n.)
late 12c., "act of touching, sense of touch," verbal noun from feel (v.). Meaning "a conscious emotion" is mid-14c. Meaning "what one feels (about something), opinion" is from mid-15c. Meaning "capacity to feel" is from 1580s.
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unfeeling (adj.)
late Old English had unfelende, "having no sensation." Middle English had a verb unfeel "be insensible, fail to feel" (early 14c.) as well as unfeelingness "insensibility, loss of sensation," and unfeelingly "without understanding or direct knowledge" (late 14c.), and a verbal noun unfeeling "loss of sensation, lack of feeling." However the word in its main modern meaning "devoid of kindly or tender feelings" is from 1590s, from un- (1) "not" + past participle of feel (v.). Related: Unfeelingly.
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palpable (adj.)

late 14c., "that can be felt, perceptible by the touch," from Late Latin palpabilis "that may be touched or felt," from Latin palpare "touch gently, stroke," a word de Vaan finds to be of no known etymology (rejecting the connection in Watkins, etc., to a reduplication of the PIE root *pal-, as in feel (v.), on phonetic grounds). Some sources suggest it is onomatopoeic. The figurative sense of "easily perceived, evident, clear, obvious" also is from late 14c., on the notion of "seeming as if it might be touched." Related: Palpably; palpability.

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