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To wipe something is it to clean it. This word is often used when cleaning something that is dirty or has some kind of a mess on it–a table, a car, hands, a person’s face, etc.

simple past past participle
  • John wiped his hands on a towel after fixing his car.
  • Please wipe this table with soap and water.
  • Tanya wiped the mud off of her car with a hose.
  • A snowplow is wiping the snow off of the street.
  • The school janitor wiped up the mud that the kids tracked into the building.
  • Don’t wipe your mouth with your sleeve while you’re eating! Use a napkin.
  • Wipe off your feet before you enter the house.
  • Windshield wipers wipe water off of the windshield of a car.

She’s going to wipe up a mess on the floor with a wet cloth.

You’ll often hear "wipe" and "out" together when something completely disappears or when there is an accident:

  • After Don lost his job, he wiped out his savings in order to pay all of his bills.
  • An overwhelming military force wiped out the opposing armies.
  • I wiped out while driving to work yesterday and hit a tree.

He wiped out on his surfboard.

Note: The song Wipe Out by the Surfaris was a huge hit in the 1960s and still gets a lot of airplay today.

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This page was first published on December 19, 2011. It was amended on December 19, 2014.



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