from The Century Dictionary.

  • To whiten with pipe-clay.
  • To blot out or wipe off; square or settle: Said of accounts.
  • noun A white clay suitable for making pipes, and also used for whitening leatherwork, especially by soldiers.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • A plastic, unctuous clay of a grayish white color, -- used in making tobacco pipes and various kinds of earthenware, in scouring cloth, and in cleansing soldiers' equipments.
  • transitive verb To whiten or clean with pipe clay, as a soldier's accouterments.
  • transitive verb Slang, Eng. To clear off.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun catlinite
  • verb To whiten by application of pipeclay.
  • verb slang, dated, UK To clear off.

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

  • verb whiten or clean with pipe-clay
  • noun fine white clay used in making tobacco pipes and pottery and in whitening leather


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • When a group of natives have been robbed of them by thoughtless white men and have found the sacred store-house empty, they have tried to kill the traitor who betrayed the hallowed spot to the strangers, and have remained in camp for a fortnight weeping and wailing for the loss and plastering themselves with pipeclay, which is their token of mourning for the dead. [

    The Belief in Immortality and the Worship of the Dead, Volume I (of 3) The Belief Among the Aborigines of Australia, the Torres Straits Islands, New Guinea and Melanesia

  • It was formed only of slabs and bark; yet the interstices of the walls being filled in with mud, and the whole of the interior whitewashed with pipeclay, of which there was abundance near, it produced no despicable effect by candlelight.

    Ralph Rashleigh

  • There was no pipeclay here to be caked onto crossbelts and musket slings, no blackball to be used on boots and no grease and powder to be slathered on the hair.

    Sharpe's Tiger

  • Morning after morning, at the dawn inspection, Sergeant Lynch would find a speck of mud on Marriott's pipeclay and the Sergeant's voice would snap at the terrified man.

    Sharpe's Regiment

  • The master-at-arms, scarlet-uniformed, his white pipeclay trimming resplendent, stamped out of the guard cabin.


  • As a soldier learns more in a week of war than in years of parades and pipeclay, so, cut off from all distractions, moving from bivouac to precarious bivouac, and depending, to some extent, for my life on my muscles and wits, I rapidly learnt my work and gained a certain dexterity.

    The Riddle of the Sands

  • Since the glass or pipeclay will contaminate the quartz which has been fused on to it, it is necessary to discard the end pieces at the close of the operation.

    On Laboratory Arts

  • Hanging over the window-sills, or suspended from nails in the wall, were the belts, which the soldiers had profited by the day's halt -- no very frequent occurrence with them -- to clean and pipeclay, and then had hung to dry in the sun.

    Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 59, No. 363, January, 1846

  • He cut a glorious calomel pill out of pipeclay, and then we concocted a black-draught of salts and bottled stout, with a little patent boot-polish.

    Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 1, December 25, 1841

  • For this purpose any good pipeclay may be employed.

    On Laboratory Arts


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  • ...he had gone out and had a shave, early in the afternoon, and had then come back and spent full forty minutes in pipeclaying his shoes...

    - Jerome, Three Men in a Boat

    April 4, 2008

  • Oh yes, I came across this in those O'Brian novels. The marines are always pipeclaying stuff getting ready for inspection on Sundays.

    Umm... what's with that second WeirdNet definition? What kind of soil is "plastic when moist"?

    April 4, 2008

  • It sounds like Igpay Atinlay...

    April 4, 2008

  • Plastic as in "capable of being molded," I presume. Or were you joking, c_b? :-)

    Pipeclaying sounds like a much better way to prepare for work than what I do. I wish I could pipeclay instead.

    April 4, 2008