Definitions

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

  • n. A small flat absorbent pad used to medicate, drain, or protect a wound or sore.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small flat absorbent pad of cotton or wool, used to medicate, drain, or protect a wound or sore.
  • n. A string of oakum used in calking.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A small plug.
  • n. A string of oakum used in calking.
  • n. A compress, or small flat tent of lint, laid over a wound, ulcer, or the like, to exclude air, retain dressings, or absorb the matter discharged.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A small plug; in surgery, a small flat mass of lint, absorbent cotton, etc., used, for example, to lay over a wound to absorb the matter discharged.
  • n. A string of oakum, such as is used in calking the seams of a vessel.

Etymologies

Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
English dialect, a small plug. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • "'We have been as active as ants, carrying our sick to their bay and making all ready in the berth: lint galore, swabs, pledgets, chains, saws, gags. When do you suppose the action will begin?'"
    --Patrick O'Brian, The Nutmeg of Consolation, 155

    March 6, 2008

  • It sounds as though it should be a tool of some sort, but no! It's "a small, flat mass of lint, absorbent cotton, or the like, for use on a wound, sore, etc."

    Except for that last part (about the wounds), I find many of these on laundry day. ;-)

    February 14, 2008

  • "'Come, pledgets, ligatures, the leather-covered chain and my great double-handed retractor, if you please...'"
    --Patrick O'Brian, The Ionian Mission, 251

    February 14, 2008