1611, "a pun, a play on words," probably a dim. of quib
"evasion of point at issue" (c.1550), from L. quibus
"by what (things)?," dative and ablative plural of quid
"what," neut. of quis
). The word's overuse in legal jargon supposedly gave it the association with trivial argument. Meaning "equivocation, evasion of the point" is attested from 1670. The verb in this sense is from 1656.