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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English wipen, from Old English wīpian (to wipe, rub, cleanse), from Proto-Germanic *wīpōną (to wipe), from Proto-Indo-European *weyp- (to twist, wind around). Cognate with German wippen (to bob), Swedish veva (to turn, wind, crank), Gothic 𐍅𐌴𐌹𐍀𐌰𐌽 (weipan, to wreathe, crown), Old English swīfan (to revolve, sweep, wend, intervene). More at swivel, swift.


wipe (third-person singular simple present wipes, present participle wiping, simple past and past participle wiped)

  1. (transitive) To move an object over, maintaining contact, with the intention of removing some substance from the surface. (Compare rub.)
    Melissa wiped her glasses with her shirt.
    I wiped the sweat from my brow with the back of my hand.
    Tom started to wipe his eyes.
    • 1900, L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
      So they passed through the Palace Gates and were led into a big room with a green carpet and lovely green furniture set with emeralds. The soldier made them all wipe their feet upon a green mat before entering this room, and when they were seated he said politely []
  2. (transitive) To remove by rubbing; to rub off; to obliterate; usually followed by away, off, or out.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Milton
      Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon.
  3. (obsolete) To cheat; to defraud; to trick; usually followed by out.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Spenser to this entry?)
    • (Can we date this quote?) Robynson (More's Utopia)
      If they by coveyne [covin] or gile be wiped beside their goods.
  4. (transitive, computing) To erase.
    I accidentally wiped my hard drive.
  5. (transitive, plumbing) To make (a joint, as between pieces of lead pipe), by surrounding the junction with a mass of solder, applied in a plastic condition by means of a rag with which the solder is shaped by rubbing.
  6. (figuratively) To change one's demeanour or facial expression.
    You should wipe that smirk off your face before the boss comes in.


wipe (plural wipes)

  1. The act of wiping something.
    multiple wipes of a computer's hard disk
  2. A soft piece of cloth or cloth-like material used for wiping.
  3. A kind of film transition where one shot replaces another by travelling from one side of the frame to another or with a special shape.

Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Compare Swedish vipa, Danish vibe (lapwing).


wipe (plural wipes)

  1. The lapwing.