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




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, mop·ping.

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, mop·ping.

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. clear (ground, trenches, towns, etc.) of scattered or remaining enemy combatants after attacking forces have conquered the area.
  2. dispose of; complete; finish: He mopped up the rest of his business and went on a vacation.


    mop the floor with. floor(def 20).

Origin of mop

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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 or mopped

(tr often foll by up) to clean or soak up with or as if with a mop
See also mop up

Word Origin for mop

C15 mappe, from earlier mappel, from Medieval Latin mappula cloth, from Latin mappa napkin



verb mops, mopping or mopped

(intr) to make a grimace or sad expression (esp in the phrase mop and mow)


such a face or expression

Word Origin for mop

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 for mop

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

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