9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[puht-ee] /ˈpʌt i/
noun, plural putties.
a compound of whiting and linseed oil, of a doughlike consistency when fresh, used to secure windowpanes, patch woodwork defects, etc.
any of various other compounds used for similar purposes.
any of various substances for sealing the joints of tubes or pipes, composed of linseed oil with red lead, white lead, iron oxide, etc.
a creamy mixture of lime and water, partially dried and mixed with sand and plaster of Paris to make a finish plaster coat.
any person or thing easily molded, influenced, etc.:
We were putty in his hands.
light brownish- or yellowish-gray.
verb (used with object), puttied, puttying.
to secure, cover, etc., with putty.
up to putty, Australian Slang. worthless or useless.
Origin of putty1
1625-35; < French potée, literally, (something) potted. See pot1, -ee
Related forms
unputtied, adjective


[puht-ee] /ˈpʌt i/
noun, plural putties.
1. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for putty
  • The outer core heats the mantle's bottom rocks into buoyant putty, which rises toward the crust, as if in a lava lamp.
  • Stick to the top of the big pumpkin with a small ball of clay polymer or poster putty.
  • With a putty knife, take a little of the prepared mix and press it down into seams covered with tape.
  • They then become putty in the hands of their would-be helpers.
  • The stool was on a drop cloth, a putty knife was on the step stool.
  • Much of the putty around the panes has popped off irregularly, letting water in and ruining the paint on the inside.
  • To test removing it, try lifting the corner of a piece with a putty knife.
  • It comes in a can and is applied with a putty knife or mason's trowel.
  • When the heat diminished, and the lime and water were thoroughly mixed, the lime putty that resulted was used to make plaster.
  • Using a trowel, press lime putty into the affected limestone ornament.
British Dictionary definitions for putty


noun (pl) -tees, -ties
(usually pl) a strip of cloth worn wound around the legs from the ankle to the knee, esp as part of a military uniform in World War I
Word Origin
C19: from Hindi pattī, from Sanskrit pattikā, from patta cloth


noun (pl) -ties
a stiff paste made of whiting and linseed oil that is used to fix glass panes into frames and to fill cracks or holes in woodwork, etc
any substance with a similar consistency, function, or appearance
a mixture of lime and water with sand or plaster of Paris used on plaster as a finishing coat
(as modifier): a putty knife
a person who is easily influenced or persuaded: he's putty in her hands
  1. a colour varying from a greyish-yellow to a greyish-brown or brownish-grey
  2. (as adjective): putty-coloured
(Austral, informal) up to putty, worthless or useless
verb -ties, -tying, -tied
(transitive) to fix, fill, or coat with putty
Word Origin
C17: from French potée a potful
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for putty

1630s, "type of plasterer's cement," from French potée "polishing powder" (12c.), originally "pot-full, contents of a pot," from Old French pot "container" (see pot (n.1)). Meaning "soft mixture for sealing window panes" first recorded 1706. Figurative use in reference to one easily influenced is from 1924. Putty knife attested from 1834.


1734, from putty (n.). Related: Puttied; puttying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for putty



A very malleable or biddable person or persons: they'll be putty and do exactly what you want (as they should) (1924+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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