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nibble

[nib-uh l] /ˈnɪb əl/
verb (used without object), nibbled, nibbling.
1.
to bite off small bits.
2.
to eat or chew in small bites:
Give him a graham cracker to nibble on.
3.
to bite, eat, or chew gently and in small amounts (usually followed by at):
She was so upset she could only nibble at her food.
verb (used with object), nibbled, nibbling.
4.
to bite off small bits of (something).
5.
to eat (food) by biting off small pieces.
6.
to bite in small bits:
He nibbled each morsel with great deliberation.
noun
7.
a small morsel or bit:
Each nibble was eaten with the air of an epicure.
8.
an act or instance of nibbling.
9.
a response by a fish to bait on a fishing line.
10.
any preliminary positive response or reaction.
Idioms
11.
nibble away at, to cause to decrease or diminish bit by bit:
Inflation was nibbling away at her savings. The rains nibbled at the loam.
Also, nibble at.
Origin
late Middle English
1425-1475
1425-75; late Middle English nebillen to peck away at, nibble, try, perhaps < Middle Low German nibbelen to pick with the beak; cf. nib, -le
Related forms
unnibbled, adjective
Synonyms
7. tidbit, bite, taste, crumb.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for nibble
  • Ptarmigan nibble on willow, and gyrfalcons dive for ptarmigan.
  • We nibble on organic white cheese made here and talk about politics, the weather, and travel.
  • The adult beetles nibble on ash foliage but cause little damage.
  • Porcupines eat the thin cedar stems as a tasty snack and red squirrels nibble on the buds.
  • The plants that sheep nibble in pastures, meadows or rangelands may contain mainly organic selenium.
  • Describes preliminary activities, nibble techniques, and tessellation art.
  • Put that same group's publications out as bait and you won't get nary a nibble.
  • If pets or wild birds nibble on a rat killed with d-Con, they can become sick.
  • Watch your gear and check your bait after every nibble to help reduce the potential for hooking or entanglement.
  • Derek got it to sit on his hand and nibble off a granola bar.
British Dictionary definitions for nibble

nibble

/ˈnɪbəl/
verb when intr, often foll by at
1.
(esp of animals, such as mice) to take small repeated bites (of)
2.
to take dainty or tentative bites: to nibble at a cake
3.
to bite (at) gently or caressingly
4.
(intransitive) to make petty criticisms
5.
(intransitive) to consider tentatively or cautiously: to nibble at an idea
noun
6.
a small mouthful
7.
an instance or the act of nibbling
8.
(pl) (informal) small items of food, esp savouries, usually served with drinks
Word Origin
C15: related to Low German nibbelen. Compare nib, neb
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 nibble
v.

"to bite gently," c.1500, perhaps from Low German nibbeln "to nibble, gnaw," related to Middle Low German nibbelen, Middle Dutch knibbelen "to gnaw," source of Dutch knibbelen "to cavail, squabble." Related: Nibbled; nibbling.

n.

1650s, "act of nibbling," from nibble (v.). As "a small bite," from 1838.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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nibble in Technology

data
/nib'l/ (US "nybble", by analogy with "bite" -> "byte") Half a byte. Since a byte is nearly always eight bits, a nibble is nearly always four bits (and can therefore be represented by one hex digit).
Other size nibbles have existed, for example the BBC Microcomputer disk file system used eleven bit sector numbers which were described as one byte (eight bits) and a nibble (three bits).
Compare crumb, tayste, dynner; see also bit, nickle, deckle.
The spelling "nybble" is uncommon in Commonwealth Hackish as British orthography suggests the pronunciation /ni:'bl/.
(1997-12-03)

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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