follow Dictionary.com

Get our exclusive Word of the Day images!

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.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for dabbler
  • He might be mistaken for an eccentric dabbler, except that he is far from alone.
  • Intensive surveys were timed individually to best estimate dabbler populations in each survey area.
British Dictionary definitions for dabbler

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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for dabbler

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
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for dabble

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for dabbler

12
15
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with dabbler

Nearby words for dabbler