Definition of percuss in US English:



[with object]Medicine
  • Gently tap (a part of the body) with a finger or an instrument as part of a diagnosis.

    ‘the bladder was percussed’
    • ‘At each setting, the practitioner would percuss the reagent's abdomen to determine the areas of dullness.’
    • ‘Palpate the chest for subcutaneous emphysema and crepitus, and percuss for dullness, an indication of consolidations or effusions.’
    • ‘Various parts of the body were moved, percussed and listened to.’
    • ‘With the patient supine you percuss along a transverse line from the umbilicus into the flank to establish the level of dullness that signifies the lower extent of bowel.’
    • ‘Accordingly, when percussing a patient's abdomen in the presence of ascites, areas of dullness and tympany should shift depending on whether the patient is lying supine or on his or her side.’


Mid 16th century (in the general sense ‘give a blow to’): from Latin percuss- ‘struck forcibly’, from the verb percutere, from per- ‘through’ + quatere ‘to shake, strike’.