Definition of putty in English:



mass noun
  • 1A soft, malleable greyish-yellow paste, made from ground chalk and raw linseed oil, that hardens after a few hours and is used for sealing glass in window frames and filling holes in wood.

    ‘countersink the screws so they can be covered with putty’
    count noun ‘the manufacture of paints and putties’
    • ‘For deeper damaged areas, apply wood filler with a putty knife and sand level when it dries hard.’
    • ‘You can fill in nail holes with wood putty before sanding if you are not planning to stain the wood.’
    • ‘You need a more traditional window than that, with timber frames, panes set in putty, and several paint jobs to soften the edges.’
    • ‘If the problem is just a few small dings and gouges, these can be quickly prepared with some wood putty.’
    • ‘He attempted a dozen jobs with screws, hanging-brackets, wood putty and latches.’
    • ‘Spackle is a soft, white, premixed material that's about the consistency of soft putty.’
    • ‘Also, fill all dents and gouges with wood putty or patching compound.’
    • ‘This seals the wood surface under the putty and prevents the metal frame from rusting.’
    • ‘The panels were then releaded, waterproofed with linseed oil putty, and shipped back to the chapel for reinstallation.’
    • ‘When dry, fill the nail holes with a non-oily wood filler for natural finishes, or putty if the wood is to be painted.’
    • ‘Using care, scrape the paper off with a putty knife or wallpaper scraper.’
    • ‘If you plan to paint, fill the holes with wood putty and sand smooth.’
    • ‘The taste is of stale water with a texture somewhere between used chewing gum and window putty.’
    • ‘These were reinforced with wood putty so they would not to crumple if he decided to take a jog.’
    • ‘Remove the strike plate and fill the screw holes with wood putty or a glued matchstick.’
    • ‘Linseed oil putty is used because when it hardens, it contributes to the structure of the window.’
    • ‘Once you have removed the forward walkway fill the step mounting holes and seams left by the walkway with putty and sand smooth.’
    • ‘After the molding is put up, use wood putty to fill visible nail holes and small gaps for a seamless look.’
    • ‘A single large sheet of glass was held in place by grooves sawed into the flame; no putty was needed.’
    pale, pastel, light-toned
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1usually with modifier Any of a number of similar malleable substances used inside and outside buildings, e.g. plumber's putty, lime putty, or used for modelling or casting, e.g. epoxy putty.
      • ‘The putty works well for vertical and overhead applications, and it's easy to measure and mix only as much as you need.’
      • ‘They are mounted through the holes in the sink using plumber's putty.’
      • ‘Quickly, he stuck a blasting cap and remote detonator in the middle of the putty, and tossed it underhand inside of a box of ammunition.’
      • ‘Use a carbide bit and a ring of plumber's putty in the spot you will be drilling.’
      • ‘A putty knife wrapped in a paper towel works well in corners and carvings.’
      • ‘To his recall, he was using a drywall putty knife not a scraper immediately before entering the accused's aisle.’
      • ‘Pressing the button started a reaction in the putty substance.’
      • ‘Seal the base of the toilet bowl with plumber's putty or silicone caulk.’
      • ‘Mix a small amount of putty, using epoxy and acrylic paint to match your tile color.’
      • ‘Apply a bead of plumber's putty to bottom edge of toilet base.’
      • ‘Before you attempt mixing lime putty on your own, read more about it.’
      • ‘The basket strainer should be packed with plumber's putty and pushed firmly down into place.’
      • ‘Then, secure the tip of the cone to the door with a bit of removable adhesive putty to keep it from tipping over.’
      • ‘To make lime putty from hydrated lime, the powder is first mixed with water.’
      • ‘The mortar mix used for the vintage building consisted of a Portland cement-slacked lime putty created by mixing cement and lime.’
      • ‘Often there is some putty that will fall out of the bottoms, leaving the joints vulnerable.’
      • ‘Cover the damaged area, plus a few inches outside, with roof cement using the putty knife.’
      • ‘Mr Green suggests pointing these cracks with a putty lime mortar, pigmented to match the stones.’
      • ‘Apply a bead of plumber's putty (not caulk) on the underside of the flange on the drain to seal it with the sink.’
      • ‘Puja showed how rollers, putty and primers typically meant for painting walls could be used to create unusual textured effects.’
  • 2A polishing powder, usually made from tin oxide, used in jewellery work.

    • ‘Polishing on a brush wheel with putty powder retained the crispness and grain marks of the stone wheels.’


[with object]
  • Seal or cover (something) with putty.

    ‘give me a minute until I putty these windows in’
    ‘lightly puttied joints’
    • ‘The masonry surface may need to be prepared by sandblasting, application of a primer, and puttying.’
    • ‘These ships leave a small gap between the old jamb and the new strip, which can be puttied and painted to match.’
    • ‘At the house we removed nails, puttied holes and generally beiged it up.’
    • ‘His French-style lights had numerous overlapping glass panes puttied precisely in place.’
    • ‘Fastener locations are often easy to find, even if the nail heads have been puttied over.’
    • ‘The crew now puttied up the gun bays in the wings and squeezed in 125 gallons on each side.’
    • ‘When you come in on Monday, you'll be surprised to see the cameras gone, even their bolt holes puttied and painted over.’


  • be (like) putty in someone's hands

    • Be easily manipulated or dominated by someone.

      ‘he was putty in her hands from the beginning’
      • ‘No one could call it a fast-moving film, but I was putty in its hands.’
      • ‘Even the most ardent broad bean hater would have been putty in my hands.’
      • ‘But even formidable Marjory is putty in Rosemary 's hands.’
      • ‘See the seamless transition from topic to topic, and the audience is soft putty in your hands.’
      • ‘I tell you, I would be putty in your hands if you were to be affectionate to me.’
      • ‘His son, Alexander III, was dull, fearful, and putty in the hands of the reactionaries.’
      • ‘Naive, idealistic and terminally gullible, Hawke is putty in his hands.’
      • ‘He barely had to say a word and she was putty in his hands.’
      • ‘One whiff of her ‘Midnight in Sorrento’ perfume and they were like putty in her hands.’
      • ‘Within moments, another blast of calming washes over me, totally reducing me to putty in her hands.’
  • up to putty

    • informal Worthless or in a mess.

      ‘the plan is spoilt. Everything is up to putty’
      • ‘The plan is spoilt. Everything's up to putty.’
      • ‘"When your life is up to putty," sang Mira, "And you feel you can't go on, laugh!"’
      • ‘I'd been lying out there about a night and a day, my legs up to putty.’
      • ‘A Royal Commission had said that they were all "up to putty".’
      • ‘Before you know it, he's up to putty with the new school teacher.’


Mid 17th century: from French potée, literally ‘potful’, from pot ‘pot’.