Definition of putty in US English:



  • 1A soft, malleable, grayish-yellow paste, made from whiting and raw linseed oil, that hardens after a few hours and is used chiefly for sealing glass panes in wooden window frames.

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

    • ‘When you come in on Monday, you'll be surprised to see the cameras gone, even their bolt holes puttied and painted over.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The crew now puttied up the gun bays in the wings and squeezed in 125 gallons on each side.’
    • ‘Fastener locations are often easy to find, even if the nail heads have been puttied over.’
    • ‘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.’


  • be (like) putty in someone's hands

    • Be easily manipulated or dominated by someone.

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


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