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[kwib-uh l] /ˈkwɪb əl/
an instance of the use of ambiguous, prevaricating, or irrelevant language or arguments to evade a point at issue.
the general use of such arguments.
petty or carping criticism; a minor objection.
verb (used without object), quibbled, quibbling.
to equivocate.
to carp; cavil.
Origin of quibble
1605-15; perhaps derivative (cf. -le) of quib gibe, apparently akin to quip
Related forms
quibbler, noun
outquibble, verb (used with object), outquibbled, outquibbling.
1. evasion, equivocation, sophism, shift, ambiguity. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for quibble
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The quibble that the troops in Egypt are mine has been broken to pieces by my first touch!

  • They draw this distinction when it is too late, and use it as a quibble to gloss over their fault.

    The Eternal City Hall Caine
  • Most of my readers will laugh at the idea of a serious answer to such a quibble.

  • You don't want to wrong me—and yourself too—by sticking to this quibble about vendor's shares.

    The Market-Place Harold Frederic
  • His Word could never be relied on, as he had always some quibble to evade it.

British Dictionary definitions for quibble


verb (intransitive)
to make trivial objections; prevaricate
(archaic) to play on words; pun
a trivial objection or equivocation, esp one used to avoid an issue
(archaic) a pun
Derived Forms
quibbler, noun
quibbling, adjective, noun
quibblingly, adverb
Word Origin
C17: probably from obsolete quib, perhaps from Latin quibus (from quī who, which), as used in legal documents, with reference to their obscure phraseology
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 quibble

1610s, "a pun, a play on words," probably a diminutive of obsolete quib "evasion of point at issue," based on an overuse of Latin quibus? in legal jargon, which supposedly gave it the association with trivial argument. Meaning "equivocation, evasion of the point" is attested from 1660s.


"equivocate, evade the point, turn from the point in question or the plain truth," 1650s, from quibble (n.). Earlier "to pun" (1620s). Related: Quibbled; quibbling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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