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1. Literally, to clean something up, often a spill. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "mop" and "up." Hand me a rag so I can mop up this juice.
2. To try to remedy problems caused by someone or something else. He needs to hire a PR person to mop up the mess he made with those comments.
3. To do the less significant, final steps that complete a task. Can you mop up this filing? I have to be in a meeting right now.
4. To remove the final enemy troops from an area that has been reclaimed. There aren't many troops left for us to mop up.
mop something up
to clean up something, such as a spill, with a mop or with a mopping motion. Please mop this mess up. I will mop up this mess.
mop up(after someone or something)
1. Lit. to clean up with a mop a sloppy mess made by someone or something. I am the one who has to mop up after the mess you made!
2. Fig. to rectify a problem that someone or something has created. You made a fuss in the conference and upset everyone. I spent hours mopping up after you in private meetings with all in attendance.
1. Clear an area of remaining enemy troops after a victory, as in They left behind just one squadron to mop up. [c. 1900]
2. Perform the minor tasks that conclude a project or activity, as in Go ahead, I'll mop up these last invoices. [First half of 1900s] Both usages transfer the task of housecleaning with a mop to other kinds of cleanup.