Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To smear; soil.
  • transitive v. To ornament in a vulgar, showy fashion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To smear upon; to soil.
  • v. To ornament garishly; to overdecorate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To daub over; to besmear or soil with anything thick and dirty.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To daub over; besmear; soil.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. spread or daub (a surface)

Etymologies

From be- (“thoroughly, extensively”) +‎ daub, from Old French dauber ("to plaster, whitewash"), from Latin dealbō ("whiten over, plaster"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • All this madness yet proceeds from ourselves, the main engine which batters us is from others, we are merely passive in this business: from a company of parasites and flatterers, that with immoderate praise, and bombast epithets, glossing titles, false eulogiums, so bedaub and applaud, gild over many a silly and undeserving man, that they clap him quite out of his wits.

    Anatomy of Melancholy

  • Though we smile to ourselves, at least ironically, when parasites bedaub us with false encomiums, as many princes cannot choose but do, Quum tale quid nihil intra se repererint, when they know they come as far short, as a mouse to an elephant, of any such virtues; yet it doth us good.

    Anatomy of Melancholy

  • Such things are “but shadowy pretences with which we bedaub each other and repay our mutual debts; but we cannot repay them, but increase rather, the debt owed to that Great Judge who rips our tattered rags from our pudenda and really sees us through and through, right down to our innermost and most secret filth.”

    Montaigne Explains the Birds and the Bees « So Many Books

  • While we were deliberating upon what was to be done, a hackney coachman, driving softly along, and perceiving us standing by the kennel, came up close to us, and calling, “A coach, master!” by a dexterous management of the reins made his horses stumble in the wet, and bedaub us all over with mud.

    The Adventures of Roderick Random

  • Some of the natives had really climbed the baobab, and now they were seen rising on all sides, winding along the boughs like reptiles, and advancing slowly but surely, all the time plainly enough discernible, not merely to the eye but to the nostrils, by the horrible odors of the rancid grease with which they bedaub their bodies.

    Five Weeks in a Balloon

  • Nay, besides these, many societies that make a great figure in the world are reflected on in this book; which caused Rabelais to study to be dark, and even bedaub it with many loose expressions, that he might not be thought to have any other design than to droll; in a manner bewraying his book that his enemies might not bite it.

    Five books of the lives, heroic deeds and sayings of Gargantua and his son Pantagruel

  • His fair locks, which the Russian was used to wash every morning, he was now bidden to bedaub with grease and flour, while he energetically cursed the black spatterdashes which it took him an hour to button every morning.

    Historic Tales, Vol. 8 (of 15) The Romance of Reality

  • Kiechel, writing in 1585, says, "Item, the women there are charming, and by nature so mighty pretty as I have scarcely ever beheld, for they do not falsify, paint, or bedaub themselves as in Italy or other places;" yet he confesses (and here is another tradition preserved) "they are somewhat awkward in their style of dress."

    For Whom Shakespeare Wrote

  • While she stood there, a little boy having in his hand a stick of molasses candy, with which he had contrived plentifully to bedaub his face, came out of the adjoining room, and surveyed her carefully from head to foot.

    Poor and proud; or, The fortunes of Katy Redburn, a story for young folks

  • Some tribes paint the face only; others, on the contrary, do not touch that part; but bedaub with colors their arms, feet, and breasts.

    Travels in Peru, on the Coast, in the Sierra, Across the Cordilleras and the Andes, into the Primeval Forests

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