When you pat, you tap lightly with your hand. A sad friend might be comforted by a kind pat on the shoulder. But that sad friend would not be comforted by a pat, insincere, comment.

Your grandfather might pat you on the head just like when you were little, even though you're taller than he is now. Dogs like getting a pat on the head, or maybe a pat of butter from the dinner table. When it's an adjective, pat means "way too simple" or "glib," as in "I asked a serious question — please don't give me a pat answer." To "have something down pat" is to know it by heart.

Definitions of pat
  1. verb
    hit lightly
    pat him on the shoulder”
    synonyms: dab
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    type of:
    deliver a sharp blow, as with the hand, fist, or weapon
  2. verb
    pat or squeeze fondly or playfully, especially under the chin
    synonyms: chuck
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    type of:
    caress, fondle
    touch or stroke lightly in a loving or endearing manner
  3. noun
    a light touch or stroke
    synonyms: dab, tap
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    type of:
    touch, touching
    the act of putting two things together with no space between them
  4. noun
    the sound made by a gentle blow
    synonyms: rap, tap
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    a series of rapid tapping sounds
    type of:
    the sudden occurrence of an audible event
  5. adjective
    exactly suited to the occasion
    “a pat reply”
    suitable for a particular person or place or condition etc
  6. adverb
    completely or perfectly
    “he has the lesson pat
    “had the system down pat
  7. adjective
    having only superficial plausibility
    synonyms: glib, slick
    apparently reasonable and valid, and truthful
Word Family

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