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What Does It Mean to "Keep in Touch"?

Jim B.
Updated May 23, 2024
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If someone tells another person to “keep in touch,” it means that he or she wants the other person to stay in contact. This phrase, which is an English idiom, is often used right before someone makes a trip that will take him or her far away from someone else. As a result, it is often the last thing uttered as a reminder to the person taking the trip that the other person wants to keep up communications even over the long distance. “Keep in touch” can easily be replaced by the similar phrase “stay in touch” as a way to urge someone to maintain contact.

Whenever someone uses a word or phrase with a meaning that is somewhat different from its literal definition, he or she is using an idiom. Idioms are useful constructions in the English language in that they provide a way for people to speak in a colloquial manner with impact and color. These idioms generally evolve over time to gain meanings that are separate from what they might have meant when they were first used. One idiom used on someone who is about to leave is the expression “keep in touch.”

This phrase is often used when someone, usually a loved one or a close friend of the speaker, is about to depart on a long journey. As a result, communication won’t be available through direct conversations. The person using the phrase wants the person departing to make the effort to keep communication lines open through telephone conversations, letters, or whatever means are available. For example, someone might say, “I hope that you keep in touch when you go away to college so that your father and I know how you’re doing.”

It’s also common for this phrase to be used all by itself as a stand-alone part of a sentence. In this way, it is almost like a term of endearment or a heartfelt farewell said by one person to another who is about to leave. As an example, someone might say, “I’m going to miss you; keep in touch.”

The other idiom often associated with “keep in touch” is the phrase “stay in touch.” Both phrases mean essentially the same thing, and they both get their meaning from the fact that, figuratively, someone “in touch” with someone else is in contact with him or her. Thus, this phrase implores a person leaving to keep that contact even over the miles that separate the two people in question.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jim B.
By Jim B. , Former Writer
Freelance writer - Jim Beviglia has made a name for himself by writing for national publications and creating his own successful blog. His passion led to a popular book series, which has gained the attention of fans worldwide. With a background in journalism, Beviglia brings his love for storytelling to his writing career where he engages readers with his unique insights.

Discussion Comments

By anon1006550 — On Apr 03, 2022

Whenever anyone says “keep in touch,” it’s their nice way of saying goodbye with no intention of seeing you again.

By Rachey — On Aug 04, 2011

It can also mean using some sort of technology to facilitate keeping in touch, like Facebook or the like. "Keep in touch" can mean something as involved as chatting with someone on Chat Rounds regularly to just leaving a few "Likes" on someone's status update. It's a really flexible term.

Jim B.

Jim B.

Former Writer

Freelance writer - Jim Beviglia has made a name for himself by writing for national publications and creating his own...
Learn more
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