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She started trying to wipe the ketchup off her shirt with a tissue, but only ended up smearing it more.

Is "wipe the ketchup off her shirt" the most natural and logical word to use in this particular context? What about dry or get?

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"Wipe" is a specific action which means to rub something (a cloth, a paper towel, your hand, even) over the thing, in order to remove the stuff that's on it.

Depending on what the thing is, and what the stuff on it is, you may or may not be successful in "wiping" the stuff off the thing.

For example, ketchup on a plastic tablecover can be "wiped" off successfully with a cloth or a paper towel, because the ketchup sticks to cloth and tissue paper, but not plastic.

But when the ketchup is on cloth, you won't be able to get all the ketchup off, because cloth absorbs ketchup to some extent. So some of it will stay on the shirt. And if you're really careless, you may rub even more of the ketchup into the shirt than you are able to get off on the tissue.

"Dry" is the wrong word here, because to "dry" means to "remove water". If you tried to "dry" the ketchup here, you would have a shirt with dried-on ketchup, which is even more difficult to get out than wet ketchup.

"Get" is lazy and unacceptable in most writing because it makes no attempt to indicate how you were trying to remove the ketchup.

In summary: "wipe" is probably the most natural word to use here.

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    '"Get" is lazy and unacceptable in most writing because it makes no attempt to indicate how you were trying to remove the ketchup.' — completely disagree. "She tried to get the ketchup off her shirt" is a perfectly natural sentence, written or spoken. Maybe if you're writing fiction it's not as descriptive, but nothing wrong with a simple 'get' in most cases. I do agree that it is ambiguous, but often so is the situation: if I have a tissue in my hand and I'm cleaning my shirt, you may not be close enough to know if I'm "wiping" or "blotting" or a combination :) Feb 26, 2021 at 14:57

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