Word Confusion: Padding versus Patting

Posted August 3, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Pad, pad, pad is a cat moving, padding, through the house or over your legs in bed. Pat, pat, pat is patting down your pockets, looking for your keys.

But it was “padding it dry with paper towels” that caught my eye. I can understand using paper towels to pad something — I can’t be the only one who has put a sheet of paper towel between two plates, but if the intention is to dry it, then the character is “patting it dry”.

Of course, padding could be a noun referring to that beer belly…

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Padding Patting
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: padding and patting; Your Dictionary.com: patting

A hockey player poised with his stick

“Dan Cloutier Skating Around the Crease” is Arnold C’s own work [Attribution; copyright holder of this file allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed. Redistribution, derivative work, commercial use, and all other use is permitted], via Wikimedia Commons

If I were a hockey player, I’d want lots of padding on me too!

Two men playing patty cake

“Two Young Men Playing Pat-a-Cake” is by Erochelson at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons) and is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Playing patty cake requires patting hands.

Part of Grammar:
Noun 1, 2
Plural for noun: paddings

Gerund and present participle for pad
Verb, intransitive & transitive

Plural for noun: pattings

Gerund and present participle for pat
Verb, intransitive & transitive

Soft material such as foam or cloth used to pad or stuff something

  • Superfluous material in a book, speech, etc., introduced in order to make it reach a desired length

Something added unnecessarily or dishonestly, as verbiage to a speech or a false charge on an expense account

The act of a person or thing that pads

Verb, intransitive:
To insure the proper forging of a piece

Verb, transitive:
Fill or cover something with a soft material in order to give it a particular shape, protect it or its contents, or make it more comfortable: a padded envelope

  • [North American] Add false items to (an expense report or bill) in order to receive unjustified payment
The act by which something is patted

Verb, intransitive:
To strike lightly or gently

To walk or run with light footsteps

Verb, transitive:
Touch quickly and gently with the flat of the hand

  • Draw attention to something by tapping it gently
  • Mold into shape or put in position with gentle taps
  • Express affection, approbation, etc.

To strike the floor, ground, etc., with light footsteps

That’s a lot of padding you got there.

We should put some padding in there to soften it up.

He has a concise style with no padding.

This envelope has padding in it!

Verb, intransitive:
[As pad]

She’s so cute when she’s padding her feet into her blanket.

Verb, transitive:
Put it in a padded envelope.

Faking repairs and padding expenses for government work was reaping billions of dollars for the Mafia.

Even the cat looked up, more from the cessation of her patting than Dean’s expletive.

Then there was Maw with that patting she always done when she’s proud of us.

Verb, intransitive:
She’s patting up in the buttery.

That girl is creepy, always patting about.

Verb, transitive:
He was patting him consolingly on the shoulder.

A nurse must have washed her all over, for she was patting her dry.

Patting the bench beside him, Paul silently invited me to sit down.

She was carefully patting down the earth in each pot she had transplanted that afternoon.

That darn cat is too quiet, always patting about on those silent feet of hers.

Every time. I swear. Every time I go through security at the airport, someone is patting me down!

Adjective: padded, unpadded
Noun: pad
Verb: pads, padded
Noun: pat
Proper Noun: Pat
Verb: pats, patted
Phrasal Verb
patting someone down
History of the Word:
First recorded in 1820-30, as pad + -ing.

Mid-16th century from the Low German padden meaning to tread, go along a path and partly imitative.

Mid-16th century meaning to hit or throw.

1714 saw the evolution of its meaning to tap or strike lightly and is probably imitative.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

“Garfield Patting His Stomach” by Catsparella, via Giphy.com.