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The Language of Painting

matt vs. matte
Usually, the UK English users use French spellings (i.e. theatre) (and sometimes words, i.e. courgette), compared to American English users (i.e. theater). This accounts for many of the spelling differences between the languages. In painting, however, I have, for the first time, found an instance where what looks the reverse of this is true. In the UK, it's "matt" paint, while in the U.S. "matte" is the usual spelling. What does Canadian English do for this?

to cut in
Off the top of my head, "to cut in" refers to intrusive cars and the combination of flour and fat. Clearly, it refers to painting around the edge of wall fixtures, such as electrical outlets/sockets too. The OED mentions whale fat (but in the sense of getting rid of, not including, the fat), but not butter, and certainly not paint, in its 8 types of "to cut in".
55. cut in.
a. trans. To carve or engrave in intaglio.
b. Whale-fishery. To cut up (a whale) so as to remove the blubber.
c. intr. To penetrate or enter sharply or abruptly; esp. so as to make a way for oneself or occupy a position between others. In later use also, to drive a motor-vehicle between two others which are passing each other in opposite directions; more recently, to drive a motor vehicle, cycle, etc., past another and move sharply in front of the overtaken vehicle. Also transf.
d. To interpose or interrupt abruptly in conversation or the like; to strike in. So cut into for cut in to. spec. To have one's name added to a lady's dancing programme; also (orig. U.S.), to supersede a partner during a dance.
e. Card-playing. To join in a game (of whist) by taking the place of a player cutting out q.v.
f. To receive a share (of profits, booty, etc.); also trans. (orig. U.S.), to give (a person) a share; freq. with on. slang.
g. trans. To connect (an electric circuit, etc.). Also intr. of a motor.
h. trans. To insert (a scene) into a film sequence. Also transf.

desperance suggests an origin having to do with wallpaper (which would involved actual cutting) which was then extrapolated to include paint.

In the US, one spackles a hole in the wall before painting. What verb does one do with Polyfilla? Or does one not verb it?


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 16th, 2008 11:35 pm (UTC)
One fills holes with Polyfilla. One does not verb it.

Edited at 2008-06-16 11:35 pm (UTC)
Jun. 16th, 2008 11:40 pm (UTC)
I grew up with 'matte' but as I am a sample of one it is hard to say whether that is correct.

Jun. 17th, 2008 12:07 am (UTC)
I wonder if it is because one is supposed to used a sharp-edged brush? And one moves from the perimeter to the inside.

I fill holes OR spackle, no matter the filling substance (my current fave is one that goes on pink, and dries white, so you know it's fully dried before painting!)
Jun. 17th, 2008 03:53 am (UTC)
That stuff is totally awesome, and it matches that sort of cheapass sprayer white that most apartments are painted around here. When I bought some, I freaked out that it was pink but trusted them, and it dried to the exact shade of white of my walls. I was totally impressed.
Jun. 17th, 2008 03:51 pm (UTC)
My household is also fond of the pink-then-white spackle.
Jun. 17th, 2008 12:36 am (UTC)
When I see 'matte' in connection with painting, my first thought is of the special effects technique using painted glass plates. I did not know that American English also used that spelling in the context of non-glossy paint.

I polyfilla holes, but I probably verb more nouns than most people. Both 'Spackle' and 'Polyfilla' are brand names, though, so they ought to be equally acceptable as verbs. I think the non-proprietary term is, rather boringly, just 'fill'.
Jun. 17th, 2008 02:04 am (UTC)
..verbing weirds nouns *nods*
Jun. 17th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
"First they came for the verbs, and I said nothing because verbing weirds
language. Then they arrival for the nouns, and I speech nothing because I
no verbs."

(Peter Ellis in alt.fan.pratchett)
Jun. 17th, 2008 06:49 am (UTC)
I would probably fill a hole in a wall.
Jun. 17th, 2008 10:20 am (UTC)
I confess, I have been known to polyfill. But I'm not proud of it.
Jun. 17th, 2008 11:01 am (UTC)
You can verb anything!

Also, I bet some people use the term "spackle" even if they're not using actual Spackle.
Jun. 17th, 2008 01:42 pm (UTC)
You fill holes with Polyfilla. I always assumed "spackle" was a variant spelling of "speckle" and referred to that multicoloured speckled finish you get on some institutional walls.

I think you "cut in" when painting because you have to use a sharp-edged brush. And a very steady hand. My husband always insists on loosening light switches etc so you can paint behind them properly. Few are as
meticulous as he is, though.
Jun. 17th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC)
But the point about taking the plate off is that you don't have to be meticulous! You can just slosh the paint around without worrying about masking tape or whether everyone will believe that you really meant to have a blue polka-dot lightswitch.
Jun. 17th, 2008 03:52 pm (UTC)
I'm surprised that the OED lacks the paint-related definition of cutting in!
Jun. 17th, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC)
I always thought it was matte, I didn't realise it was different in England. Good thing the kids I was teaching were too young to need that word.

And I don't spackle/polyfil anything. I make someone else do it.
Jun. 18th, 2008 01:49 am (UTC)
Personally the use of "cut in" that I most recognize is the one associated with dancing. "Mind if I cut in."

I'll check my Canadian OED (Self proclaimed foremost authority on Canadian English) about Matt vs. Matte.
Jun. 19th, 2008 03:04 am (UTC)
Well my Canadian Oxford tells me that "matt" is a variant spelling esp. Brit., so apparently Canadians default to "matte."
Jun. 19th, 2008 08:07 am (UTC)
Thanks for checking!
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )