Main definitions of pat in US English:

: pat1pat2


verbpatting, pats, patted

[with object]
  • 1Touch quickly and gently with the flat of the hand.

    ‘he patted him consolingly on the shoulder’
    with object and complement ‘a nurse washed her all over and patted her dry’
    • ‘They began patting themselves dry and Lydie wrung out her hair with the towel.’
    • ‘‘Good girl,’ said Ray, winking, patting her none too gently on the head.’
    • ‘She gasped, patting all of her pockets and then her collarbone, searching but not finding.’
    • ‘‘I know the feeling’ I replied, patting him gently on the back.’
    • ‘Buck turned to his horse and patted Gypsy gently.’
    • ‘Tessa rolls her eyes, and actually has the nerve to pat me consolingly on the shoulder.’
    • ‘I got up off the mountainside and patted myself down quickly trying to stay stable.’
    • ‘I sigh in relief, and quickly pat myself down before putting the air vent back on and walking back out.’
    • ‘I quickly patted down my pockets and, finding nothing, I frantically checked the pavement around me.’
    • ‘He patted each pocket a second time and shrugged his shoulders and looked down at his hands.’
    • ‘He patted me quickly on the back then scuttled off down the far end of the cat walk.’
    • ‘Michael glanced at Liz and set her down, patting her gently.’
    • ‘‘And I understand why they said that completely,’ Amy said, patting him gently on the shoulder.’
    • ‘Looking up at the cave mouth before him, Mega gently patted Rush on the head, as the robot dog moved to stand beside him.’
    • ‘If the baby stops breathing, a nurse will stimulate the baby to start breathing by patting him or touching the soles of his feet.’
    • ‘She climbed onto the rock and patted herself dry with one of the blankets.’
    • ‘Jerry, after taking a look at his brother, patted Jasmine consolingly on the hand.’
    • ‘I did so and she pulled an embroidered towel off a metal rack and patted me dry.’
    • ‘‘It's okay, I always thought Winnie was cute’ Ben said gently patting her on the head.’
    • ‘‘Breathe, girl, breathe,’ Drew said, patting Kelly gently on the back.’
    tap, slap lightly, clap, dab
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Draw attention to (something) by tapping it gently.
      ‘he patted the bench beside him and I sat down’
      • ‘I'm not going to bite you,’ he continued, laughing and patting the bed beside him.’
      • ‘The doll nodded softly, and stepped out of her exhibit, then sat down upon a bench, and patted the spot next to her.’
      • ‘‘Now let's talk,’ he said with a smile, sitting down cross-legged on the cold concrete floor and patting the floor beside him.’
      • ‘‘Here, sit next to me,’ Lisa said, sitting on the bed and patting the spot beside her.’
      • ‘Chloe pulled the bench out from under the piano and sat down, patting the space beside her.’
      • ‘He had just smiled at me, patting the seat beside him.’
      • ‘‘Come on,’ he coaxed, patting the lounge beside him.’
      • ‘I saw Nathan sitting on a log, patting the empty space beside him, ‘Saved you a place.’’
      • ‘He pointed to a vacant bench and sat down, patting the space beside him to indicate where I should be.’
      • ‘Josh pats his waist to draw attention to the belt securely surrounding it.’
      • ‘Michael drew the sheets away and patted the part of the bed beside him, as if telling me to lie there.’
      • ‘She grins cheerily back until he shrugs and pats the grass beside him.’
      • ‘‘Come and sit here, and let's talk about it,’ I said, patting the seat beside me on the couch.’
      • ‘‘Come sit,’ she beckoned patting the spot beside her as she sank gracefully down by the fireplace.’
      • ‘‘Maria… sit down, and be quiet,’ her mother said softly, patting the couch beside her.’
      • ‘‘We need to talk, honey,’ mum said, patting the place beside her.’
      • ‘He paused at a bench and dropped down patting the seat next to him.’
      • ‘Rob sat down on the right side of the piano bench and patted the space next to him.’
      • ‘‘I should be thanking you,’ he said, scooting over and patting the space beside him.’
      • ‘‘Come here,’ he repeated, patting the vacant area beside him.’
    2. 1.2 Mold into shape or put in position with gentle taps.
      ‘she patted down the earth in each pot’
      • ‘Gabrielle stretched as she got out of the car, trying her best to pat down her unruly hair, but remained unsuccessful.’
      • ‘Straw had to be cut, trimmed and tied as a shaker for the holy water, stick butter patted into shapes and all the foodstuff bought for the breakfast.’
      • ‘I stopped just in time, patted out my frizzled hair and open the door.’
      • ‘Alice was nervously patting down her hair, and glancing about.’
      • ‘I patted down my frizzy brown hair, and attempted to find another, better shirt.’
      • ‘Press chocolate in the shape, lightly pat on top to push in every groove of the mould.’
      • ‘Divide the meat into four, roll into balls, then flatten and pat into four thick burger shapes.’
      • ‘My hands make their way to his head again and I begin to pat down his hair like I was doing before.’
      • ‘The night wind rustled his hair and his hand reflexively went up to pat down the strays.’
      • ‘Then gently pat the layers down so they are even, and carefully pour the white sauce mix over the top to fill your dish,.’
      • ‘She pats the girl's back and brushes the hair out of her eyes.’
      • ‘I looked at Jackson who nodded, patting down his messy hair.’
      • ‘I narrowed my eyes and idly patted down my short blond hair that I always kept gelled forward.’
      • ‘I shrugged and sat up, patting down my messy hair.’
      • ‘Raphael tried to pat down his wild hair before giving a loud sigh and collapsing into bed.’
      • ‘Wren walked in, wiping his hands on his trousers and trying to pat down his ruffled hair.’
      • ‘Summer said anxiously, patting her straight blond hair into place and batting her eyes rapidly.’
      • ‘She put on a black Ramones T-shirt and patted down her hair with her hands.’
      • ‘She glowered after him, patting down her tangled hair.’
      • ‘He quickly patted everything down, making it as flat as possible, and then he finally unrolled his sleeping bag.’

nounPlural pats, Plural Pats

  • 1A light stroke with the hand.

    ‘giving him a friendly pat on the arm, she went off to join the others’
    • ‘Setting down the bandages, she gave the injured beast a quick pat.’
    • ‘Kathryn growled under her breath and gave him a light pat on the neck.’
    • ‘Scotty gives Johnny a friendly pat on the arm before leaving the room.’
    • ‘He gave her a quick kiss and a quick pat on my shoulder before he left, leaving Crystal and I staring across the table at each other.’
    • ‘Tori gave my shoulder a light pat, ‘And you've helped me in more ways that anyone else could.’’
    • ‘She regretted not giving quick pats to her favorite horses, whose stalls were on her left and right.’
    • ‘The old woman gave her a smile and a quick pat on the back.’
    • ‘Carefully standing up, I limped slowly over to Alpete, who snorted and stretched out his delicate velvet nose for a light pat.’
    • ‘Desa gave him a friendly pat on the arm, then rejoined her ‘friend’ in the back of the group.’
    • ‘With a quick pat of my ankle I verify that my back-up is still tucked into the slender ankle holster and then pull the door release and step into the quiet parking lot.’
    • ‘It was a light pat, but it made me open my eyes and look up at him.’
    • ‘I saw my pets were paying the price of my hectic schedule by receiving quick pats on their heads, rushed walks, and broken promises of evening playtimes.’
    • ‘Sylvian smiled, ran over to his friend, gave her a hug, and a light pat on the back.’
    • ‘Receiving a quick pat on the back by Chris, David continued to walk toward the metal bleachers.’
    • ‘A quick pat of the pockets and a bit of fumbling produced the card.’
    • ‘He gave the side of the van two quick pats before he moved away.’
    • ‘She gave him a quick pat on the shoulder, another surprise; he wasn't a very touchy-feely person.’
    • ‘She removed her hand only to give him a light pat on the head.’
    • ‘She gave him a quick hug and a pat on the shoulder.’
    • ‘He brought Pegasus to a halt, and alighted him, tying the reins to a nearby post, and giving the white horse a quick pat.’
    tap, light blow, clap, dab
    View synonyms
  • 2A compact mass of soft material.

    ‘a pat of butter’
    • ‘They also brought a pat of butter and the ‘bread basket’, which was in fact toasted logs of thin baguette, bunched up together in a wide glass.’
    • ‘The woman mumbles thanks, and Jin comes over to me, and hands me a plate of cool nut bread, and a small pat of butter, with a knife to spread it.’
    • ‘Some expertly cooked carrots and green beans (that was me again) tasted even better with the little pat of butter included in the deal.’
    • ‘A pat of butter was melted in the pan, sufficient in quantity to thoroughly lubricate the whole of its surface, and leave a coating of moisture about an eighth of an inch deep over all.’
    • ‘At each meal, your protein should be the size of a deck of cards, your starchy carbs as big as a small orange and your fats no more than a teaspoon of olive oil or a pat of butter.’
    • ‘Two slices of toast, a pat of butter and a blob of marmalade were on a side plate accompanied by a glass of ice water.’
    • ‘Put a pat of butter on each slice of bread (one slice per person).’
    • ‘Put in the refrigerator and anytime you need a pat of butter just cut it off the ‘log’.’
    • ‘After rinsing, skip the lotion but put on a pat of baby powder or cornstarch.’
    • ‘Just slather a generous pat of butter onto one of these spicy muffins while it's still warm, and call it dessert.’
    • ‘Go out to the sidewalk at noon, spread out the foil, drop a pat of butter on the eggs, position the bacon, then begin fooling around with the spatula.’
    • ‘We were bought a complimentary plate of various breads to share, with a pat of butter and a little bowl of the most beautiful looking, vibrant orange marmalade.’
    • ‘I was just putting a pat of butter in the bottom of a pan for the scrambled eggs, when Alex wanders through to see me.’
    • ‘It looked like a pat of butter caught in the midst of an ocean, with puffy marshmallows snuggling up.’
    • ‘Fry the golden chanterelles in a pat of butter until some of the moisture is evaporated.’
    • ‘Intrigued, we ordered a round and, as advertised, it tasted like someone had dropped a pat of Land O'Lakes into weak Earl Grey.’
    • ‘Brunch was often distinguished by an extra pat of butter and a piece of fruit, he said.’
    • ‘When the cider is reduced, add a pat of butter and let that melt, then add the apples.’
    • ‘The peas are covered in salted water, cooked until tender, seasoned with a pat of butter and served.’
    • ‘Despite the gulf of property and manner, country and language, they may have turned to each other for a pat of butter or a bunch of spring flowers.’
    piece, dab, lump, portion, knob, mass, cake, chunk, wedge, hunk, gobbet, ball, curl
    View synonyms


  • a pat on the back

    • An expression of approval or congratulation.

      ‘they deserve a pat on the back for a job well done’
      • ‘So keep these tools in an accessible place nearby for those times when you can use a round of applause or a pat on the back.’
      • ‘A blackburn school is one of a handful nationwide to be given a pat on the back for the ninth-year running by a leading skills agency.’
      • ‘He finally made his mark with three runs which brought cheers from the crowd and a pat on the back from Atherton.’
      • ‘He has worked a lot with Craig and deserves a pat on the back for bringing him on so well.’
      • ‘For finishing first place in a Scottish Hillrally you receive a hearty round of applause and a pat on the back.’
      • ‘When players recovered from knocks they were more often than not helped to their feet by the opposition, an act sometimes accompanied by a pat on the back.’
      • ‘But the loons and quines on the Press & Journal deserve a pat on the back.’
      • ‘He congratulated me with a pat on the back, a flush spreading across his face.’
      • ‘Remember, too, that a pat on the back for a job well done can often be appreciated as much as incentives.’
      • ‘Journal readers can give themselves a pat on the back for helping to raise enough money to start rebuilding a village that was washed away by the tsunami.’
      • ‘We hope all those publishers who turned the book down give themselves a pat on the back for yet another job well done.’
      • ‘Instead, the party gave itself a pat on the back, expressing pride in its achievements.’
      • ‘Cheers to everyone who clicked, you deserve a pat on the back.’
      • ‘Those of you who rightly guessed that it comes from Henry VIII, act II, scene IV may give yourselves a pat on the back.’
      • ‘The Road Service certainly deserve a pat on the back for the way they gritted the road through the Village the night that the snow fell.’
      • ‘Another part of the job he really likes: Giving a deserving kid a pat on the back.’
      • ‘Festival Place should give everyone a pat on the back for such a wonderful job they did in order for the evening to run so smoothly.’
      • ‘We are given a conscientious restoration, a commentary, and a pat on the back, which is enough for me.’
      • ‘The two pubs are quite different and York Brewery deserves a pat on the back for daring to be a real ale pub offering chrome and sofas alongside pianos and barrels.’
      • ‘Also give yourself a pat on the back for answers you know you got right, and forgive yourself for those you messed up.’
      praise, congratulations, commendation, applause, salutes, honour, acclaim, acclamation, tribute, cheers, ovation, accolade, plaudits, felicitations
      View synonyms
  • pat someone on the back

    • Express approval of or admiration for someone.

      ‘she needs her own claque to applaud and pat her on the back’
      • ‘Ellis shouted ‘It worked,’ said Lori approvingly and patting Susan on the back.’
      • ‘Although we are in a strong position it is no good patting ourselves on the back in October or November.’
      • ‘He is not the sort of person who gives out compliments or pats you on the back, he does it in other ways.’
      • ‘I was in such a daze from the previous night the next morning that I didn't even realize that I had been made Person Of The Day until I heard people congratulating me and patting me on the back.’
      • ‘He felt a million hands patting him on the back and congratulating him on a job well done.’
      • ‘All of Vix's friends complimented him and patted him on the back.’
      • ‘The cars' occupants hooted their approval and patted Chad on the back for his bravery.’
      • ‘It was discussed and approved and we were patted on the back.’
      • ‘And there's just the two of us in the room, as he pats me on the back to congratulate me on my unarguably well-delivered line.’
      • ‘Someone handed him a drink as several people crowed around him patting him on the back and congratulating him on the success of the raid.’
      • ‘They seemed nonchalant as they patted Raymond on the back and congratulated him as well.’
      • ‘His friends were milling around him, patting him on the back and congratulating him on a great fight.’
      • ‘I'll never want anyone to pat me on the back and congratulate me on coming third, but I've definitely got life in perspective now.’
      • ‘I do feel a need to pat Spetnak on the back for this comment.’
      • ‘I patted him on the back with an approving smile.’
      • ‘People he did not recognize patted him on the back and congratulating him on an excessively long keg stand.’
      • ‘As I'm leaving a man from the audience pats me on the back to congratulate me.’
      • ‘‘Well, anyway, I'm glad that Blake could find someone who could make him happy, even for a little while,’ he commented, patting me on the back as he jumped off the bleachers.’
      • ‘My coach commented while patting me on the back.’
      • ‘As he walked down the tables to pick up a tray and food, everyone patted him on the back and congratulated him.’
      congratulate, praise, sing the praises of, express approval of, take one's hat off to
      View synonyms

Phrasal Verbs

  • pat someone down

    • (of a police officer or security official) pass the hands over someone's clothing in a search for concealed items such as weapons or illegal drugs.

      • ‘They made me take off my boots and patted me down.’
      • ‘When police officers arrived, a passer-by pointed out where the man had run off to; the officers found him and patted him down.’
      • ‘A female screener patted her down under her armpit and touched her with an open hand between her breasts.’
      • ‘John patted him down, but found nothing.’
      • ‘"They patted me down and found nothing," Godfrey says.’
      • ‘Then the two airmen led the suspect away to the hood of a patrol car, where they patted him down for weapons and drugs.’
      • ‘They came in, patted me down and made me sit in the corner.’
      • ‘The second soldier patted me down roughly, then scrutinized my Harper's press card minutely.’
      • ‘At the reception station, a tall young guard took my photo, scanned my index fingerprints, and patted me down.’
      • ‘He patted me down for a wire.’


Late Middle English (as a noun denoting a blow with something flat): probably imitative. The verb dates from the mid 16th century.




Main definitions of pat in US English:

: pat1pat2



  • Simple and somewhat glib or unconvincing.

    ‘instead of enlightened minds I found prejudice and pat answers’
    • ‘It's also possible that, if a man does a lot of dating, he might have a pat answer that he gives out casually, but have all kinds of issues that might surface later.’
    • ‘All you have are pat answers and glib retorts that turn out, on ten seconds' worth of thought, to be mindless platitudes.’
    • ‘There are no glib, pat answers that will provide comfort to people of faith in the face of such an overwhelming, needless tragedy, says Christian.’
    • ‘When they send back the usual pat answers, tell them it's still not good enough, and ask again for their plans to release the children by any date.’
    • ‘I just hug him and try not to give him the pat answer of this is life and everyone dies.’
    • ‘The pat answer is that, recognising that they are both Swedish, he thought they might like to mutter sweet nothings to each other in their mother tongue.’
    • ‘That's the normal life of folks at Catholic Answers, not the endless dispensation of pat answers.’
    • ‘First, those who have either been conditioned out of thinking about such questions or else have glibly assimilated pat religious answers lead impoverished lives.’
    • ‘I believe that there are some moral situations that do not have a straightforward answer and I don't have a pat answer for this or any other moral issue.’
    • ‘It was clear that by that time they had gotten a few calls on the matter, and had a pat answer.’
    • ‘I'm not sure that I can give a pat answer to that, or that any of us should give a pat answer as a description for any component of our lives.’
    • ‘Over the years, I've come up with a pat answer for when this happens.’
    • ‘Hers is a book for mature people who do not expect pat answers, who are willing to be disturbed by arguments instead of having their prejudices satisfied.’
    • ‘She doesn't come up with pat answers: Her character is as confused as the rest of who contain multitudes.’
    • ‘You may have a pat answer to this one, because it's asked all the time: Why are the Rules of Golf so complicated?’
    • ‘There are some very pat answers available on the FDA's website.’
    • ‘The reason this makes me want to wash my hands of humanity forever, even though I'm sure the person that says it means no harm by spouting this kind of pat answer.’
    • ‘And so he would probably give his pat answer which is, you know pour me something tall and strong.’
    • ‘We don't give stock answers or pat replies to their questions and many players actually know our support staff by name!’
    • ‘I thought his little set, pat answers generally didn't work as well tonight.’
    glib, simple, simplistic, facile, slick, smooth, unconvincing, perfunctory
    View synonyms


  • At exactly the right moment or in the right way; conveniently or opportunely.

    ‘the happy ending came rather pat’
    opportunely, conveniently, advantageously, at exactly the right moment, at just the right moment, expediently
    View synonyms


  • stand pat

    • 1Stick stubbornly to one's opinion or decision.

      ‘many ranchers stood pat with the old strains of cattle’
      • ‘The Seahawks are standing pat on offense and turning over five positions on defense.’
      • ‘They screamed during the offseason for free-agent signings and other roster improvements while Reid largely stood pat.’
      • ‘Tibco Software hasn't gotten to where it is - at the top of the heap of vendors of enterprise application integration software - by standing pat.’
      • ‘The dollar's drag could worsen if central banks in the U.S. and euro zone cut rates while the BOC stands pat.’
      • ‘The Bruins opted to stand pat on their coach and shuffle players like so many playing cards.’
      • ‘Baltimore stood pat in free agency, not signing a free agent other than those on their own roster.’
      • ‘Depending on your viewpoint, the acquisitions boom can be taken as a positive demonstration that the industry is not standing pat as it doubles e-media bets already in place on fast-growing newspaper online operations.’
      • ‘Obviously no one will ever know whether or not the White Sox, if they had stood pat, would have caught the Indians, who went on to win the division title and the A.L. pennant before losing the World Series to the Florida Marlins.’
      • ‘Problems like these, the CENTURY concluded, would not be solved ‘by standing pat on the traditions under which the present absurd inequities have grown up’.’
      • ‘Bears They stood pat on defense but revamped their offense - especially if you include the return of injured quarterback.’
      • ‘The most likely scenario is for the team to stand pat with its top pick, or perhaps slide back a few spots as it did in 2001.’
      • ‘With baseball's best record, the Cardinals elected to stand pat at the trade deadline.’
      • ‘Arizona, with a payroll already stretching the club's resources to a budget-busting level, opted to stand pat, which is not a bad decision.’
      • ‘While other food companies in recent years have scrambled to slash costs, Nestlé has stood pat, insisting that robust sales growth was its top priority.’
      • ‘IBM, along with Intel Corp., is one of the few standing pat.’
      • ‘Two AFC South stalwarts that stood pat this offseason in the free-agent department figure to let it all hang out as they always do.’
      • ‘The Titans also chose to go heavy on defense, standing pat on offense.’
      • ‘Even as an increasing number of Latinos, Asians and trade unionists defected to the Republicans, blacks stood pat with the Democrats.’
      • ‘And the Senators pretty much stood pat with the powerhouse team of last season that came so close to the Stanley Cup finals.’
      • ‘Last spring, they stood pat at the March trading deadline with a lineup that finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference - and then were dumped unceremoniously in the first round of the playoffs by the bankrupt Penguins.’
      • ‘In short, North Korea stands pat on its position that the whole issue has been ‘resolved.’’
      • ‘The decision to stand pat highlights the lack of coordination between the BOJ and the government to pull the world's second-biggest economy out of recession.’
      • ‘With their own costs still growing at 7.5%, however, employers can't afford to stand pat.’
      1. 1.1(in poker and blackjack) retain one's hand as dealt, without drawing other cards.
        • ‘Likewise, if your No.2 wideout is set to face tough defenses in three consecutive weeks, don't stand pat and take that kind of scoring hit.’
        • ‘The Capraesque ‘normal’ person stands pat with his neighborhood investment club while the financiers of Manhattan, driven by imaginary fears and wild superstitions, panic and flee.’
        • ‘Eleven of his 14 picks are in the final four rounds, so it's unlikely Wolf will be able to move up more than a position or two in the first round - so he'll likely stand pat at the 14th pick and take the best defensive end.’
  • down pat

    • Memorized or mastered perfectly.

      ‘she had the baby's medical routine down pat’
      ‘a guy who has his art history down cold’
      word-perfect, by heart, by rote, word for word, parrot-fashion, verbatim, by memory, memorized
      memorize, commit to memory, remember, retain, learn by heart, learn, learn by rote, impress on the memory, become word-perfect in
      View synonyms


Late 16th century: related to pat; apparently originally symbolic: a frequently found early use was hit pat (i.e. hit as if with flat blow).