Empire had dribbled away after 1945, for the Second World War exhausted victors as surely as it obliterated the vanquished.
1580s, frequentative of obsolete verb drib (1520s), variant of drip (v.). Sports sense first used of soccer (1863), basketball sense is by 1892 (implied in dribbling). Related: Dribbled; dribbling. As a noun from 1670s.