pat 1 (păt)
v. pat·ted, pat·ting, pats
a. To tap gently with the open hand or with something flat.
b. To stroke lightly as a gesture of affection. See Synonyms at caress.
2. To mold by tapping gently with the hands or a flat implement.
1. To run or walk with a tapping sound.
2. To hit something or against something gently or lightly.
1. A light gentle stroke or tap.
2. The sound made by a light stroke or tap or by light footsteps.
3. A small mass shaped by or as if by patting: a pat of butter.
pat on the back
An expression or gesture of praise or approval: Let's give them a pat on the back for doing a good job.
[From Middle English, a blow, perhaps of imitative origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.