1 [tab-ee]
noun, plural tabbies.
a cat with a striped or brindled coat.
a domestic cat, especially a female one.
a spinster.
a spiteful female gossip or tattler.
a watered silk fabric, or any other watered material, as moreen.
striped or brindled.
made of or resembling tabby.
verb (used with object), tabbied, tabbying.
to give a wavy or watered appearance to, as silk.

1630–40; back formation from French tabis (taken as plural), Middle French (a)tabis silk cloth < Medieval Latin attābi < Arabic ʿattābī, derivative of (al-)ʿAttābīyah, quarter of Baghdad where the silk was first made, literally, the quarter of (Prince) ʿAttāb Unabridged


2 [tab-ee]
(in the southeastern U.S.) a building material composed of ground oyster shells, lime, and sand, mixed with salt water.

1765–75, Americanism; said to be of West African orig. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
tabby1 (ˈtæbɪ)
a fabric with a watered pattern, esp silk or taffeta
[C17: from Old French tabis silk cloth, from Arabic al-`attabiya, literally: the quarter of (Prince) `Attab, the part of Baghdad where the fabric was first made]

tabby2 (ˈtæbɪ)
1.  (esp of cats) brindled with dark stripes or wavy markings on a lighter background
2.  having a wavy or striped pattern, particularly in colours of grey and brown
n , -bies
3.  a tabby cat
4.  any female domestic cat
5.  informal (Brit) a gossiping old woman
6.  slang (Austral) any girl or woman
[C17: from Tabby, pet form of the girl's name Tabitha, probably influenced by tabby1]

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

1638, "striped silk taffeta," from Fr. tabis "a rich, watered silk (originally striped)," from M.Fr. atabis (14c.), from Arabic 'attabiya, from 'Attabiy, a neighborhood of Baghdad where such cloth was first made, named for prince 'Attab of the Omayyad dynasty. Tabby cat, one with a striped coat, is
attested from 1695; shortened form tabby first attested 1774. Sense of "female cat" (1826) may be infl. by the fem. proper name Tabby, a pet form of Tabitha, which was used in late 18c. as slang for "difficult old woman."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


type of dark-striped coat colouring found in both wild and domestic cats. One of the most common coat colours, the tabby pattern dates back to domestic cats in ancient Egypt. It is a recognized colour variety in purebred cats and is frequently seen in cats of mixed ancestry. Tabby colouring is highly variable but, for show cats, should consist of the following dark markings: stripes and whorls on the face and cheeks; a pattern like butterfly wings across the shoulders; two rings around the chest; bands on the back and sides; and rings about the legs and tail. Allowable ground colours are brown (see ), silver gray (see ), bluish ivory, and reddish brown (see ).

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
The tabby crouched on the cage's platform is fiercely attentive, as if he's not
  sure whether he's the hunter or the hunted.
Handmade bricks at the base of this tabby feature may have functioned as a
  footing for the wall.
There are several outlying buildings and the tabby foundation of a cotton gin
  adjacent to the house.
The house is a two-story clapboard structure set on a high tabby foundation.
Related Words
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