dab at

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dab at (something)

To repeatedly touch something lightly and carefully, as if gently applying or removing something. After lunch, I tried to clean my son up by dabbing at his jam-covered face. I only dabbed at the mirror so that I didn't make the smear worse.
See also: dab
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

dab at something

to touch or pat something. The painter dabbed at the canvas, making little changes here and there. Don't just dab at the wall, spread the paint on!
See also: dab
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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