Diction issue

I haven’t been able to find any information on pat vs. pet.  When I was little, I’m sure we used to “pat” our pets.  Now everywhere I look it seems we “pet” our pets.  “Petting,” back in the day, was not something one did to pets.  It was something bad boys did to their girlfriends, generally qualified with the adjective “heavy.”

I can find commentary on the past tense of “pet” (“pet” vs, “petted”) but nothing on what happened to “patting.”

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5 thoughts on “Diction issue

  1. Elaborating on the above comment,
    I think of patting as an up-and-down periodic pressing motion (as in patting someone on the head), while petting is a side-to-side stroking motion.

  2. You two know I guess. And I can accept it theoretically. But I’ll never be able to use it. As a child I patted pets and now I can’t curb the reaction: “Pet the nice doggie, Sweetie” just makes my skin crawl.

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