• To propel something through water with a paddle, oar, hands, etc.
  • To row a boat with less than one's full capacity.
  • To spank with a paddle.
  • To pat or stroke amorously or gently.
  • To tread upon; to trample.
  • To walk or dabble playfully in shallow water, especially at the seaside.
  • To toddle.
  • To toy or caress using hands or fingers.


  • Partly from the verb paddle and partly from Middle English padell ("small spade").
  • Middle English padell is from Medieval Latin padela, itself of uncertain origin: perhaps an alteration of Middle English *spaddle (see also spaddle), a diminutive of spade; or from Latin patella ("pan, plate"), the diminutive of patina, or a merger of the two. Compare Ancient Greek πηδάλιον ("rudder, steering oar"), derived from πηδός.
  • Recorded since 1530, probably cognate with Low German paddeln ("to tramp about"), frequentative form of padjen, from pad (also in Dutch dialects). Compare also Saterland Frisian paddelje ("to paddle").

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