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[jab] /dʒæb/
verb (used with or without object), jabbed, jabbing.
to poke, or thrust abruptly or sharply, as with the end or point of a stick.
to punch, especially with a short, quick blow.
a poke with the end or point of something; a sharp, quick thrust.
a short, quick punch.
Origin of jab
1815-25; variant, orig. Scots, of job2
Related forms
jabbingly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for jab
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Cochise let go the ladder with one hand to jab his knife at Lennon's leg.

    Bloom of Cactus Robert Ames Bennet
  • A jab from someone's elbow had decorated Dulcie Vale with a black eye.

  • He shortened his right arm for a jab like the crash of a pile-driver.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service
  • We can jab it off its hook with a billiard-cue, I should think, Moke.

    The Right Stuff Ian Hay
  • If I see another one, I'll jab him with one of these knitting needles.

    Tom Slade with the Colors Percy K. Fitzhugh
British Dictionary definitions for jab


verb jabs, jabbing, jabbed
to poke or thrust sharply
to strike with a quick short blow or blows
a sharp poke or stab
a quick short blow, esp (in boxing) a straight punch with the leading hand
(informal) an injection: polio jabs
Derived Forms
jabbing, adjective
jabbingly, adverb
Word Origin
C19: originally Scottish variant of job
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 jab

1825, "to thrust with a point," Scottish variant of job "to strike, pierce, thrust," from Middle English jobben "to jab, thrust, peck" (late 15c.), of unknown origin, perhaps echoic. Related: Jabbed; jabbing.


1825, from jab (v.). Meaning "a punch with the fist" is from 1889. Sense of "injection with a hypodermic needle," beloved by headline writers, is from 1914.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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