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See also: Daub



From Middle English daub (noun), from Middle English dauben (to plaster or whitewash; cover with clay; bespatter, verb), from Old Northern French dauber (to whitewash; plaster), of uncertain origin. Probably from Latin dealbāre (to whiten thoroughly).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /dɔːb/
  • (US) IPA(key): /dɔb/, /dɑb/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɔːb


daub (countable and uncountable, plural daubs)

  1. Excrement or clay used as a bonding material in construction.
  2. A soft coating of mud, plaster, etc.
  3. A crude or amateurish painting.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


daub (third-person singular simple present daubs, present participle daubing, simple past and past participle daubed)

  1. (intransitive, transitive) To apply (something) to a surface in hasty or crude strokes.
    Synonyms: apply, coat, cover, plaster, smear
    The artist just seemed to daub on paint at random and suddenly there was a painting.
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Exodus 2.3,[1]
      [] she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch []
    • 1865, Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters, Chapter 16,[2]
      [] Mrs. Gibson could not well come up to the girl’s bedroom every night and see that she daubed her face and neck over with the cosmetics so carefully provided for her.
    • 1869, Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, Chapter 26,[3]
      An artist friend fitted her out with his castoff palettes, brushes, and colors, and she daubed away, producing pastoral and marine views such as were never seen on land or sea.
    • 1940, Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls, London: Jonathan Cape, Chapter 15, p. 185,[4]
      [] as he watched, [the motorcar] came up the snow-covered road, green and brown painted, in broken patches of daubed color, the windows blued over so that you could not see in []
    • 1952, Patricia Highsmith, The Price of Salt, Norton, 2004, Chapter 3, p. 39,[5]
      Blood was running to her shoe, and her stocking was torn in a jagged hole. [] she wet toilet paper and daubed until the red was gone from her stocking, but the red kept coming.
    • 1969, Chaim Potok, The Promise, New York: Fawcett Crest, Book 3, Chapter 16, p. 379,[6]
      They were expecting to see me, she said, daubing paint on the canvas and stepping back to gauge the effect.
    • 2007, Tan Twan Eng, The Gift of Rain, New York: Weinstein Books, Book 1, Chapter 21, p. 226,[7]
      Cylindrical lanterns daubed in red writing hung at intervals across wooden beams []
  2. (transitive) To paint (a picture, etc.) in a coarse or unskilful manner.
    • 1695, John Dryden (translator), Observations on the Art of Painting by Charles Alphonse du Fresnoy, London: W. Rogers, p. 201,[8]
      [] a lame, imperfect Piece, rudely daub’d over with too little Reflection and too much haste.
    • 1724, Isaac Watts, Logick: Or, The Right Use of Reason in the Enquiry after Truth, London: John Clark and Richard Hett, 2nd edition, Part 2, Chapter 3, Section 1, p. 189,[9]
      If a Picture is daub’d with many bright and glaring Colours, the vulgar Eye admires it as an excellent Piece []
    • 1826, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, An Essay on Mind, Book I, in The Earlier Poems of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1826-1833, London: Bartholomew Robson, 1878, pp. 25-26,[10]
      If some gay picture, vilely daubed, were seen
      With grass of azure, and a sky of green,
      Th’impatient laughter we’d suppress in vain,
      And deem the painter jesting, or insane.
    • 1964, Christopher Isherwood, A Single Man, Vintage, 2010,
      [] this stretch of the shore is still filthy with trash; high-school gangs still daub huge scandalous words on its beach-wall, and seashells are still less easy to find here than discarded rubbers.
  3. (transitive, obsolete) To cover with a specious or deceitful exterior; to disguise; to conceal.
    • c. 1592, William Shakespeare, Richard III, Act III, Scene 5,[11]
      So smooth he daub’d his vice with show of virtue,
    • 1820, John Clare, “The Universal Epitaph” in Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery, London: Taylor & Hessey, p. 91,[12]
      No flattering praises daub my stone,
      My frailties and my faults to hide;
  4. (transitive, obsolete) To flatter excessively or grossly.
  5. (transitive, obsolete) To put on without taste; to deck gaudily.
    • 1697, John Dryden, “On the Three Dukes killing the Beadle on Sunday Morning, Febr. the 26th, 1670/1” in John Denham et al., Poems on affairs of state from the time of Oliver Cromwell, to the abdication of K. James the Second, London, p. 148,[14]
      Yet shall Whitehall the Innocent, the Good,
      See these men dance all daub’d with Lace and Blood.
    • 1762, Oliver Goldsmith, The Citizen of the World, London, for the author, Volume 1, Letter 50, p. 224,[15]
      [] whenever they came in order to pay those islanders a visit, [they] were generally very well dressed, and very poor, daubed with lace, but all the gilding on the outside.

Derived terms[edit]

  • dauber (unskilled painter)


See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]