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dabble

[dab-uh l] /ˈdæb əl/
verb (used without object), dabbled, dabbling.
1.
to play and splash in or as if in water, especially with the hands.
2.
to work at anything in an irregular or superficial manner:
to dabble in literature.
3.
(of a duck) to feed on shallow-water vegetation with rapid, splashing movements of the bill.
verb (used with object), dabbled, dabbling.
4.
to wet slightly in or with a liquid; splash; spatter.
5.
Chiefly South Midland U.S. to wash or rinse off lightly.
Origin
1550-1560
1550-60; probably dab1 + -le; compare Dutch dabbelen, dabben
Related forms
dabbler, noun
dabblingly, adverb
undabbled, adjective
Synonyms
2. putter, fiddle, toy, dally.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for dabbling
  • In the last few years, they began dabbling into hourly rentals as a way to compete with car sharing.
  • They are skimming biographies, dabbling in dictionaries.
  • But the motivation behind that dabbling is often principled outrage and a drive to right wrongs.
  • He also had a sharp eye for a good investment, successfully dabbling in property.
  • True dabbling ducks have an iridescent patch, called a speculum, on the trailing edge of their secondary feathers.
  • Types of ducks include dabbling ducks and diving ducks.
  • Examples of dabbling ducks include the mallard and northern pintail species.
  • They are good divers, but usually feed by dabbling or tipping rather than submerging.
  • dabbling ducks feed by straining food from the water's surface or by submerging their heads.
  • Cues for investment: nest desertion in response to partial clutch depredation in dabbling ducks.
British Dictionary definitions for dabbling

dabble

/ˈdæbəl/
verb
1.
to dip, move, or splash (the fingers, feet, etc) in a liquid
2.
(intransitive; usually foll by in, with, or at) to deal (with) or work (at) frivolously or superficially; play (at)
3.
(transitive) to daub, mottle, splash, or smear: his face was dabbled with paint
Derived Forms
dabbler, noun
Word Origin
C16: probably from Dutch dabbelen; see dab1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for dabbling

dabble

v.

1550s, probably a frequentative of dab. Original meaning was "wet by splashing;" modern figurative sense of "do superficially" first recorded 1620s. Related: Dabbled; dabbling. An Ellen Dablewife is in the Lancashire Inquests from 1336.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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