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  1. Also called dab hand. a person skilled in something; an expert.
  2. an excellent or extraordinary person or thing.
  1. expert; excellent; extraordinary.

Origin of dab3

First recorded in 1685–95; of uncertain origin
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for dab hand

dab hand

  1. British informal a person who is particularly skilled at something; experta dab hand at chess


abbreviation for
  1. digital audio broadcasting


verb dabs, dabbing or dabbed
  1. to touch lightly and quickly
  2. (tr) to daub with short tapping strokesto dab the wall with paint
  3. (tr) to apply (paint, cream, etc) with short tapping strokes
  1. a small amount, esp of something soft or moista dab of ink
  2. a small light stroke or tap, as with the hand
  3. (often plural) mainly British a slang word for fingerprint

Word Origin

C14: of imitative origin


  1. a small common European brown flatfish, Limanda limanda, covered with rough toothed scales: family Pleuronectidae: a food fish
  2. (often plural) any of various other small flatfish, esp floundersCompare sand dab
  3. Also called: patiki a sand flounder, Rhombosolea plebia, common around New Zealand's South Island

Word Origin

C15: from Anglo-French dabbe, of uncertain origin


  1. British informal See dab hand

Word Origin

C17: perhaps from dab 1 (vb)
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

Word Origin and History for dab hand



c.1300, dabben "to strike," of unknown origin, perhaps imitative. Modern sense of "strike with a slight, quick pressure" developed by mid-16c., influenced by French dauber (see daub). Related: Dabbed; dabbing. As a noun from c.1300, "heavy blow with a weapon." Dab hand is British slang, 1828, from dab "expert" (1690s), said to be school slang, of unknown origin, perhaps from dab in the "strike lightly" sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper