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[nab] /næb/
verb (used with object), nabbed, nabbing. Informal.
to arrest or capture.
to catch or seize, especially suddenly.
to snatch or steal.
Origin of nab
1675-85; earlier nap; perhaps < Scandinavian; compare Danish nappe, Norwegian, Swedish nappa to snatch
Related forms
nabber, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for nabbed
  • But its new employees were of high quality, even though it might have nabbed a few better candidates by waiting.
  • The cameras were installed on a beltway and nabbed speeders.
  • There was plenty of interplanetary booty to be nabbed.
  • We nabbed the top of the chimney and came back up with a chunk of sulfide in a box, she says.
  • If you get nabbed, you're potentially on the hook for fines ranging into the thousands of dollars.
  • Now they win them when yet another leader is nabbed.
  • Now there are few big network airlines left to be nabbed.
  • He has nabbed the ministries of finance, defence and public works for himself.
  • Doug is always being nabbed by the police, but he is seen serving only one jail term.
  • Lawmen nabbed four officers and two civilians last week.
British Dictionary definitions for nabbed


verb (transitive) (informal) nabs, nabbing, nabbed
to arrest
to catch (someone) in wrongdoing
to seize suddenly; snatch
Word Origin
C17: perhaps of Scandinavian origin; compare Danish nappe, Swedish nappa to snatch. See kidnap
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 nabbed



"to catch (someone)," 1680s, probably a variant of dialectal nap "to seize, catch, lay hold of" (1670s, now surviving only in kidnap), which possibly is from Scandinavian (cf. Norwegian nappe, Swedish nappa "to catch, snatch;" Danish nappe "to pinch, pull"); reinforced by Middle English napand "grasping, greedy." Related: Nabbed; nabbing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for nabbed



(also nabs) A police officer or detective (1950s+ Street gang)


To catch; seize; arrest; collar: The officers nabbed him around the corner (1686+)

[fr dialect nap as in kidnap, perhaps related to Swedish nappa, ''catch,'' or Danish nappe, ''pull''; probably related to nip; the noun sense is recorded in British criminal slang by 1813]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Related Abbreviations for nabbed


  1. National Association of Broadcasters
  2. New American Bible
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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