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.
    • 2008, Joseph Agassi, ‎Ian Charles Jarvie, A Critical Rationalist Aesthetics (page 16)
      Ah, but what if he penned what in the art schools they call an 'artist's statement' wherein he explained the relation of his gibberish or his daubs to the mainstream of art or writing?

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit


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 termsEdit

  • dauber (unskilled painter)


See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit