A discussion on an e-mail list made me aware of a new word: skinship.”

  1. Feelings of relatedness and affection between two people, particularly a mother and a child, caused by hugging, touching, and other forms of physical contact.

The origin of the word is unclear. Debbie Treijs (in Japanese skinship; healthy touching between parent and child,” Mothering, September 1, 1999), claims that it was introduced by the WTO during a meeting in Japan in 1940, but the WTO wasn’t founded until 1948, so it is unclear what she is referring to. Moreover,

the earliest Japanese citation in Nihon Kokugo Daijiten, a 14-volume dictionary similar in scope to the OED, is from 1971.

On the e-mail list one professor stated that his university students use the term in a much more sexual way than the original usage implies, so it is possible that the meaning of the word is changing. If so, then then Skinship Journal’s sales might pick up.

(via the EASIANTH e-mail list.)