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1. To tamp down the surface of some substance in order to smooth, flatten, or pack it. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "pat" and "down." Lightly pat the soil down after planting the seed, leaving it loose enough for water to get through. Pat down the silicone mixture around the person's face so that the mold will be able to capture all their unique details.
2. To put one's hands on someone's body in order to search them for something, especially weaponry or prohibited substances. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "pat" and "down." The bouncer is patting down everyone to make sure no one smuggles booze or drugs into the concert. The officer patted me down even through I told him I didn't have a gun on me.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
pat something down
to tap something down with the open hand. I heaped some soil over the seeds and patted it down. I patted down the soil.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. To flatten or mold something by tapping it gently with the hands or a flat implement: The baker patted down the dough with a rolling pin. We patted the clay down before shaping it.
2. To search someone or something with the hands, especially for weapons or illegal substances: The police patted down the suspect for guns. The customs officials patted us down.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.