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I've just been putting protective oil on a wooden door using a cloth and was getting the oil onto the cloth using the technique of blocking the tin with the cloth and upending the tin so that a small amount of oil is left on the cloth.

I've used this technique all my life for various things but have never known a word or phrase to describe the action. I also use it when cleaning things with white-spirit or similar. When I had a toothache as a child, my mother used to apply Oil of Cloves to the tooth from her finger-tip using a similar action.

I'm fairly certain we don't have a word in British English, so I'd be really interested if there's a word in use elsewhere in the English-speaking world - or if any other language has a word that we can purloin.

If no-one has anything - let's make one up!

  • A verb for applying some fluid to a cleaning cloth by pressing the cloth up against the container's opening and then upending the container. Let's resurrect tipple. Tipple some cleaning fluid onto a clean rag. – TRomano Nov 9 '14 at 12:33
  • I like that! You should add that as an answer. – Lefty Nov 9 '14 at 12:35
  • okeydokey, lefty. – TRomano Nov 9 '14 at 12:36
  • @TRomano As a frequentative of tip, the word tipple can mean to 'tilt,' and that's the closest it comes to the OP's sense of tilting the tin (for whatever purpose.) The more common (primary?) meaning of tipple, however, is unrelated to this context. – Kris Nov 9 '14 at 13:43
  • @Kris, as we (facetiously) say in the States, "Tell me something I don't already know". :-) – TRomano Nov 9 '14 at 14:07
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moisten, dampen, wet, soak apply depending on how much moisture is applied.

  • Certainly any of these are better than tipple, which has certain unattractive connotations. – Robusto Nov 9 '14 at 13:59
  • For me, none of these fit the bill. They describe the state of dampness of the cloth after the upending has been performed - not the process of achieving that state. The technique is fairly specific in the amount of fluid that it allows onto the cloth and it's virtually impossible to get it wrong by pouring too much. I think it demands its own verb. – Lefty Nov 9 '14 at 14:40
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    @Lefty These words are verbs. These are not to be confused with moist, damp, wet, or soaked as adjectives. – SrJoven Nov 9 '14 at 16:13
  • Moisten is my vote. – Andrew Lazarus Nov 9 '14 at 18:58
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A verb for applying some fluid to a cleaning cloth by pressing the cloth up against the container's opening and then upending the container. Let's resurrect tipple. Tipple some cleaning fluid onto a clean rag.

Just don't tipple the cleaning fluid! It's a phrasal verb: "tipple...onto".

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    Please try to provide a definitive source supporting the answer. Also, it helps if some use-case sentences can be included for completeness. – Kris Nov 9 '14 at 13:34
  • Sorry, I see no evidence for this definition in OED, and I've never come across it before. You say "Let's resurrect this word" - I say "Show some evidence it was ever used in this sense". – FumbleFingers Nov 9 '14 at 13:45
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    @FumbleFingers I think this is an attempted extension of meaning -- pl. see my comment under the question above. – Kris Nov 9 '14 at 13:49
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    This would be a bad choice because tipple has the literal meaning of drinking, and I don't think you wish to suggest drinking potentially harmful chemicals, even filtered through a cloth. – Robusto Nov 9 '14 at 14:00
  • Resurrect, as in revive the obsolete transitive verb tipple (to throw or pitch something) and combine it with the sense of being upended in the obsolete intransitive verb (cf. topple over) and combine it also with the "consume|use strong fluids" meaning of the verb "tipple" :-) – TRomano Nov 9 '14 at 14:01
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I think the verb you are looking for this action is: to dab.

To cover lightly with or as if with a moist substance: dabbed the back of the fabric with glue.

[The American Heritage Dictionary]

Some Examples from Google and Google Books:

If you're a shower person, dab some oil on a scrap of cloth and hang it from the shower to release the aroma.

[Kitchen Witch's Guide to Magickal Tools By Patricia Telesco]


Remove the scope from your rifle. Dab some water on a soft cloth. Wipe the outside of the lenses clean with the cloth.

http://www.ehow.com/how_7412240_repair-scratches-rifle-scopes.html


All you need to do is dab some oil on a cotton ball or pad and swipe across your face to remove makeup for a natural makeup remover solution.

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/diy-olive-oil-based-skincare-products/


Protect your hand with a grill mitt, dab some oil on a cloth, and quickly but efficiently wipe down the hot grills.

http://www.mrtimes.com/opinion/editorial/five-golden-rules-bring-best-food-to-table-1.580563

  • I have sometimes seen "dab" used as the action of getting fluid onto a cloth - but genuinely don't know whether they mean to use this technique or to pour some liquid into a vessel and then "dab" the cloth into that pool of liquid. I hope you can see that the 2 things are not the same and it would be helpful to have a distinction. I also have a feeling that this use of "dab" may be slightly more common in the US than in the UK. – Lefty Nov 9 '14 at 16:00
  • @Lefty: This is the word for this technique. Another example: you can dab some makeup remover on a cotton pad and wipe your face. You can do a search on Google and see similar examples. – ermanen Nov 9 '14 at 16:06
  • @Lefty: Added more examples to prove it is the right verb. I don't know why I got the downvote though. Maybe it is not used in all English speaking countries (though I doubt because it is a very basic verb) but definitely used in North America. – ermanen Nov 9 '14 at 18:46
  • @ermanem Again, your examples are ones where I would NOT naturally assume you get the fluid onto the cloth by this process. To me, I "dab" a cloth or sponge INTO a fluid which is in a shallow dish. I might then "dab" the cloth/sponge ONTO something - which implies a lighter touch than wiping or rubbing. I appreciate that you may understand "dab" to mean this process but I don't. EDIT, sorry, I can see you are in US! BTW, the downvote was no from me. – Lefty Nov 9 '14 at 19:17
  • @Lefty: These examples are not INTO. They are ON a something from a bottle or a container. Maybe it is used in other sense too, yes. I'm in Canada. "Dip" connotes INTO the liquid more than "dab". – ermanen Nov 9 '14 at 19:19
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How about something with "flip[ping]" in it...

"the wig,""the lid," "the bird".... all already taken (too bad. 'cause "the lid" could have worked...

let's see...:

"flipping the cloth" maybe, or maybe "flipping the flop"?

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