DEFINITION: Literally, to outstretch your arm/hand with the intention of touching something or someone.
IDIOM DEFINITION: Nowadays, the term is often used to mean “initiate contact with someone (usually by email or phone).” The implication is that the contact is helpful or beneficial.
You would not usually say this to a friend (instead, you would say anything else: Call me! Text me! Message me! Facebook me! Ping me! etc…). In other words, it is a polite way to say “contact” someone.
1. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me.
2. Thank you for reaching out; I would love to meet and speak with you about some initiatives we are planning.
ORIGIN. AT&T (originally Bell Labs) popularized this phrase with their 1979 commercial, using the Diana Ross song “Reach Out and Touch Someone” as their jingle.
“Reach out” is related to the term “outreach,” (the act of extending services and benefits, such as in community work), and both terms became very popular in the 90’s, and some could argue, overused.