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[mop-ing-uhp] /ˈmɒp ɪŋˈʌp/
serving to complete or put the finishing touches to a phase of a particular action.
serving to complete a military campaign by killing or capturing any remaining enemy troops:
a mopping-up operation.
Origin of mopping-up
1905-10; mop up + -ing1, used attributively


[mop] /mɒp/
a bundle of coarse yarn, a sponge, or other absorbent material, fastened at the end of a stick or handle for washing floors, dishes, etc.
a thick mass of hair.
a polishing wheel having several layers of cloth secured by a boss.
verb (used with object), mopped, mopping.
to rub, wipe, clean, or remove with a mop (often followed by up):
to mop up a spill.
to wipe as if with a mop:
to mop the face with a handkerchief.
verb (used without object), mopped, mopping.
to clean or wipe with or as if with a mop (often followed by up):
First he swept, then he mopped up.
Verb phrases
mop up,
  1. Military. to clear (ground, trenches, towns, etc.) of scattered or remaining enemy combatants after attacking forces have conquered the area.
  2. Informal. to dispose of; complete; finish:
    He mopped up the rest of his business and went on a vacation.
mop the floor with. floor (def 20).
1375-1425; earlier map, late Middle English mappe, apocopated variant of mappel < Medieval Latin mappula a cloth, equivalent to Latin mapp(a) napkin + -ula -ule Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for mopping up
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Have either of you any orders for me concerning the mopping up?

    Man of Many Minds E. Everett Evans
  • Marcella seemed to be spending all the night mopping up water.


    M. Leonora Eyles
  • The young man who had been mopping up the floor went out for fresh water.

    Hints to Pilgrims Charles Stephen Brooks
  • Noah kneeling on the floor, mopping up the ink, reached toward the desk, and then paused.

    A Romance of Billy-Goat Hill Alice Hegan Rice
  • From the 10th to the 19th of May was spent in marching through the Philippolis district, mopping up Boers, horses, and stock.

  • I robbed them of their whiteness that night by mopping up a lot of mud with them behind the gymnasium.

    Football Days William H. Edwards
  • Charlie was at the wheel and Breck was mopping up the slime that the anchor chain had made on deck.

    The Camp Fire Girls on a Yacht Margaret Love Sanderson
  • Dan threw him a swab, and he leaned over the dory, mopping up the slime clumsily, but with great good-will.

    "Captains Courageous" Rudyard Kipling
British Dictionary definitions for mopping up


an implement with a wooden handle and a head made of twists of cotton or a piece of synthetic sponge, used for polishing or washing floors, or washing dishes
something resembling this, such as a tangle of hair
verb mops, mopping, mopped
(transitive) often foll by up. to clean or soak up with or as if with a mop
See also mop up
Word Origin
C15 mappe, from earlier mappel, from Medieval Latin mappula cloth, from Latin mappa napkin


verb mops, mopping, mopped
(intransitive) to make a grimace or sad expression (esp in the phrase mop and mow)
such a face or expression
Word Origin
C16: perhaps from Dutch moppen to pour; compare Dutch mop pug dog


(in various parts of England) an annual fair at which formerly servants were hired
Word Origin
C17: from the practice of servants carrying a mop, broom, or flail, etc, to signify the job sought
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for mopping up



late 15c., mappe "bundle of yarn, etc., fastened to the end of a stick for cleaning or spreading pitch on a ship's decks," from Walloon (French) mappe "napkin," from Latin mappa "napkin" (see map (n.)). Modern spelling by 1660s. Of hair, from 1847.



1709, from mop (n.). Related: Mopped; mopping.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for mopping up



  1. The last item or act; the final result: And the mop was he got caught
  2. A head of hair; hairdo

[1944+ Black; probably from the notion of mopping or cleaning up, influenced by earlier jazz use ''the last beat at the end of a jazz number'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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