- to strike lightly or gently with something flat, as with a paddle or the palm of the hand, usually in order to flatten, smooth, or shape: to pat dough into flat pastry forms.
- to stroke or tap gently with the palm or fingers as an expression of affection, approbation, etc.
- to strike (the floor, ground, etc.) with light footsteps.
- to strike lightly or gently.
- to walk or run with light footsteps.
- a light stroke, tap, or blow with the palm, fingers, or a flat object.
- the sound of a light stroke or of light footsteps.
- a small piece or mass, usually flat and square, formed by patting, cutting, etc.: a pat of butter.
- a pat on the back, a word of praise, congratulations, or encouragement: Everyone needs a pat on the back now and then.
- pat down, to pat or pass the hands over the body of (a clothed person) to detect concealed weapons, drugs, etc.
- pat on the back, to praise, congratulate, or encourage: The boss patted him on the back for the deal he made yesterday.
Origin of pat1
SynonymsSee more synonyms for pat on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for patting
Rain was patting the Bermuda grass, and it was the only sound for several miles.The Death of a Rodeo Cowboy
May 11, 2014
“Good work, Banzi,” Mugianis says, patting the “sometimes” tattoo that adorns her upper back.Hallucinating Away a Heroin Addiction
May 4, 2014
Turn the page, and there, in fresh ginghams, would be mom, baking pies with one hand while patting her towhead with the other.Doug Kenney: The Odd Comic Genius Behind ‘Animal House’ and National Lampoon
Robert Sam Anson
March 1, 2014
Privately, Britain seems to be patting itself on the back for maintaining its own AAA rating.S&P: Debt Downgrade Analysis Was 'Objective'
August 7, 2011
Whether all this scanning and probing and patting down is enhancing our collective security is very much in doubt.The Media's Pat-Down Frenzy
November 22, 2010
"Not now," said Phil, patting his shoulder, with imperturbable good-nature.Malbone
Thomas Wentworth Higginson
"I think I'll stay for the meeting," said Yates, approaching him and patting the horse.In the Midst of Alarms
She bent forward and took one of his hands, patting it softly.The Fortune Hunter
Louis Joseph Vance
The hand lifted and descended again in a patting, caressing movement.
In the meantime the love-master was patting White Fang and talking to him.
- to hit (something) lightly with the palm of the hand or some other flat surfaceto pat a ball
- to slap (a person or animal) gently, esp on the back, as an expression of affection, congratulation, etc
- (tr) to shape, smooth, etc, with a flat instrument or the palm
- (intr) to walk or run with light footsteps
- pat someone on the back informal to congratulate or encourage someone
- a light blow with something flat
- a gentle slap
- a small mass of somethinga pat of butter
- the sound made by a light stroke or light footsteps
- pat on the back informal a gesture or word indicating approval or encouragement
- Also: off pat exactly or fluently memorized or masteredhe recited it pat
- opportunely or aptly
- stand pat
- mainly US and Canadianto refuse to abandon a belief, decision, etc
- (in poker, etc) to play without adding new cards to the hand dealt
- exactly right for the occasion; apta pat reply
- too exactly fitting; gliba pat answer to a difficult problem
- exactly righta pat hand in poker
- on one's pat Australian informal alone; on one's own
- an informal name for an Irishman
Word Origin and History for patting
c.1400, "a blow, stroke," perhaps originally imitative of the sound of patting. Meaning "light tap with hand" is from c.1804. Sense of "that which is formed by patting" (as in pat of butter) is 1754, probably from the verb. Pat on the back in the figurative sense attested by 1804.
"aptly, suitably, at the right time," 1570s, perhaps from pat (adj.) in sense of "that which hits the mark," a special use from pat (n.) in sense of "a hitting" of the mark. The modern adjective is 1630s, from the adverb.
1560s, "to hit, throw;" meaning "to tap or strike lightly" is from 1714; from pat (n.). Related: Patted; patting. The nursery rhyme phrase pat-a-cake is known from 1823. Alternative patty-cake (usually American English) is attested from 1794 (in "Mother Goose's Melody, or Sonnets for the Cradle," Worcester, Mass.).
Idioms and Phrases with patting
In addition to the idiom beginning with pat
- pat on the back
- stand pat