General Writing and Grammar Help/Wipe OUT - wipe OFF

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Question
Dear Ted:

Is there any difference between "to wipe something OUT" and "to wipe something OFF"?

If so, when should I use each of them?

Would you please give me some examples?

For instance, which of the following two sentences is grammatically correct?

1) The Iranian leader wants to wipe Israel out of the Middle East map.

2) The Iranian leader wants to wipe Israel off the Middle East map.

If both are possible, do they have the same meaning?

Thank you,

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

Is there any difference between "to wipe something OUT" and "to wipe something
OFF"?

If so, when should I use each of them?

Would you please give me some examples?

*** In GENERAL, WIPE OUT means to get rid of something completely.  WIPE OFF means
to clean or erase something from something else.

For instance, which of the following two sentences is grammatically correct?

1) The Iranian leader wants to wipe Israel out of the Middle East map.

2) The Iranian leader wants to wipe Israel off the Middle East map.

If both are possible, do they have the same meaning?

*** Only the second sentence is correct.  Since these phrases are figurative and not literal, think of a table which is filled with food.  Someone spills spaghetti sauce on the table, so the host gets a cloth or sponge and WIPES off the spilled sauce.  The country of Israel is represented by the unwanted sauce.  Israel gets WIPED OFF the table.

OTHER EXAMPLES:

The inside of my oven needs to be cleaned.  I will use a strong solution to WIPE OUT the dried pieces food.  [I use WIPE OUT, because my cleaning is done INSIDE the oven.]

He tried to surf the high waves, but they knocked him off his surf board; he was WIPED OUT.

After I finish cleaning the inside of my oven, I need to WIPE OFF the outsides.

Please dry the dishes by WIPING THEM off with this dish towel.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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