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[jab] /dʒæb/
verb (used with or without object), jabbed, jabbing.
to poke, or thrust abruptly or sharply, as with the end or point of a stick.
to punch, especially with a short, quick blow.
a poke with the end or point of something; a sharp, quick thrust.
a short, quick punch.
Origin of jab
1815-25; variant, orig. Scots, of job2
Related forms
jabbingly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for jab
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • When he shove frough, nen I ole suddenity begin push, jab, shove—quick—ole semma churn budder.

  • A jab from someone's elbow had decorated Dulcie Vale with a black eye.

  • Unbuckling the spur from her heel, she used the rowel as a knife to jab a hole in the clay.

    The Sheriff's Son William MacLeod Raine
  • He shortened his right arm for a jab like the crash of a pile-driver.

    The Trail of '98 Robert W. Service
  • Now and again he stopped to listen or to jab tile suspended wolf with the ax-handle.

    Darkness and Dawn George Allan England
British Dictionary definitions for jab


verb jabs, jabbing, jabbed
to poke or thrust sharply
to strike with a quick short blow or blows
a sharp poke or stab
a quick short blow, esp (in boxing) a straight punch with the leading hand
(informal) an injection: polio jabs
Derived Forms
jabbing, adjective
jabbingly, adverb
Word Origin
C19: originally Scottish variant of job
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 jab

1825, "to thrust with a point," Scottish variant of job "to strike, pierce, thrust," from Middle English jobben "to jab, thrust, peck" (late 15c.), of unknown origin, perhaps echoic. Related: Jabbed; jabbing.


1825, from jab (v.). Meaning "a punch with the fist" is from 1889. Sense of "injection with a hypodermic needle," beloved by headline writers, is from 1914.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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