#87 – TO MOP UP


Hello, I’m Luke Thompson. You’re listening to ‘A Phrasal Verb a Day’ and the phrasal verb in this episode is ‘mop up’, ‘mop up’. Now, you should know what a ‘mop’ is before we move on to look at other meanings. ‘A mop’ is a kind of tool that you use when you’re doing housework. It’s like a long handle, long wooden handle with a sort of cloth at the end, lots of pieces of cloth and you dip it into soapy water and then you use it to wash the floor, okay? ‘To mop something’. So, you know, if you’ve spilt something on the floor and you need to wipe it up then you might use a mop. You know, you’ve got a bucket, a long wooden handle and then the mop head at the end which is like lots of bits of cloth or kind of thick absorbent string kind of stuff – that’s a mop – and you squeeze all the water out of it and then you start using it to MOP UP the liquid that you’ve dropped on the floor, okay? So, ‘to mop something up’ means to clean liquid or dirt from a surface using a mop, alright? So, it’s a bit like ‘to wipe something up’, ‘to mop something up’. So, you know:

– I spilt milk all over the floor. I didn’t cry because there’s no use crying over spilt milk. He, he! Yes. Anyway, I’d spilt milk on the floor and I had to MOP it UP.

Now, that’s the literal use of that phrase ‘to mop something up’. You could use it in very sort of nonliteral ways too, figurative ways, just meaning that you removed remaining things or you cleaned something up. So, for example:

The government had to… The government are hoping to MOP UP rebel resistance in the next few days

meaning: the government are hoping to get rid of the remaining bits of rebel resistance. They’re going to MOP it UP.

Let’s see… You could use ‘mop up’ to say that you’re finishing something by dealing with the final details:

– Yeah, we stayed up all nights in the early morning just try and MOP UP all the last remaining details of this financial package

alright? OK, so you get the impression the literal meaning means to clean up liquid, to clean up some liquid using a mop or a cloth and you could use that for various figurative things as well like for example – the government (are) cleaning up remaining bits of rebel forces or trying to clean up just some more details in a business plan.

Okay? Right, so that’s ‘to mop something up’. Hopefully, at least you’ve learnt the word ‘mop’ in this and the word ‘mop up’. Like if you’re in a bar and you drop wine on the floor you’d say:

– Oh, no, look I’ll MOP it UP. Don’t worry.

Okay. That’s it for this episode. Speak to you again very soon. Bye.

  • riddle

    My mother has spilt milk on the floor in the kitchen. “Mama there’s no use crying over spilt milk. I’ll mot it up, don’t worry mother:)” The ukraininan army is struggling to mop up pro-russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. I’m not sure if this phrasal verb can be used here since there are regular russian troops in eastern Ukraine. I’d like to congratulate you on your lust success, namely winning again Macmillan Dictionary Award. You should get all the linguistic accolades since you’re the best teacher that there is.

  • Andrzej (with a particulary high number of deamons in his mind today)

    In fact that was the gorilla, mistakenly painted pink, poor thing, that awkwardly knocked off a glass of three-headed zebra’s milk all over the floor. Luckily, no mop was required to mop it out because the talking dog accidentally sitting in the corner of the room talking rushed to spread the word about the cataclysm and two prawns decided to call the magic cod for emergency help to mop it out with the power of his mind and then all the things got back to business as usual.