Try Our Apps


Gobble up these 8 terms for eating


[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.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for nabbing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Then there is indeed a nabbing of men at the station, and sudden surrender on the part of the farmers, before it is too late.

  • "Maybe da vos vaiting for a chanct to cotch us nabbing," answered the Dutch soldier.

    Marching on Niagara Edward Stratemeyer
  • One citation for shooting it out with a burglar and another for nabbing a past-post crook at Lefko's horse room.

    The Syndic C.M. Kornbluth
  • They kept guard and thought they had a sure thing of nabbing the burglars as they emerged with their spoils.

    Jerry's Reward Evelyn Snead Barnett
  • The police are coming and theyll get you, and I can identify you, if they dont succeed in nabbing you red-handed.

  • Like our common red-head, this bird has the habit of soaring out into the air and nabbing insects on the wing.

    Birds of the Rockies Leander Sylvester Keyser
  • This den of ours opens on the river's edge, and, two days since, his Indians came within an ace of nabbing me.

    The Master of Appleby Francis Lynde
British Dictionary definitions for nabbing


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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for nabbing



"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
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for nabbing



(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.
Cite This Source
Related Abbreviations for nabbing


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

Word of the Day

Word Value for nabbing

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for nabbing