nibble at


verb (used without object), nibbled, nibbling.
to bite off small bits.
to eat or chew in small bites: Give him a graham cracker to nibble on.
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.
to bite off small bits of (something).
to eat (food) by biting off small pieces.
to bite in small bits: He nibbled each morsel with great deliberation.
a small morsel or bit: Each nibble was eaten with the air of an epicure.
an act or instance of nibbling.
a response by a fish to bait on a fishing line.
any preliminary positive response or reaction.
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.

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

unnibbled, adjective

7. tidbit, bite, taste, crumb. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
nibble (ˈnɪbəl)
vb (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.  (intr) to make petty criticisms
5.  (intr) to consider tentatively or cautiously: to nibble at an idea
6.  a small mouthful
7.  an instance or the act of nibbling
8.  informal (plural) small items of food, esp savouries, usually served with drinks
[C15: related to Low German nibbelen. Compare nib, neb]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"to bite gently," c.1500, perhaps from Low Ger. nibbeln "to nibble, gnaw," related to M.L.G. nibbelen, M.Du. knibbelen "to gnaw," source of Du. knibbelen "to cavail, squabble." The noun is first attested 1658.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang Dictionary

nibble definition

  1. n.
    a cautious or preliminary response to something. (See also nybble.) : My advertisement got three nibbles this morning.
  2. in.
    to reply cautiously or tentatively to something. : I hope someone who wants to buy my car nibbles at the description I posted on the Internet.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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