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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 of dabble
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. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for dabbled
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He had pretty features, gave infinite care to his toilet, wrote romantic poems and dabbled in water colors.

  • To my horror I perceived that the yellow blossoms were all dabbled with crimson.

    The Return of Sherlock Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The sky over the sea behind them was then dabbled with gray, and a smell of dawn was coming down from the mountains.

    The Deemster Hall Caine
  • Every curate in England dabbled in geology and hunted for vestiges of Creation.

  • On Knob Creek, he dabbled in the water, or roved the hills and climbed the trees, with a little companion named Gallaher.

British Dictionary definitions for dabbled

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 dabbled

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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