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[nab] /næb/
verb (used with object), nabbed, nabbing. Informal.
to arrest or capture.
to catch or seize, especially suddenly.
to snatch or steal.
Origin of nab
1675-85; earlier nap; perhaps < Scandinavian; compare Danish nappe, Norwegian, Swedish nappa to snatch
Related forms
nabber, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for nabbed
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Nero must have slipped in, nabbed the fish, and brought it to our house.

  • He's nabbed three of the Birdsall gang and is away now after Burleigh.

    Warrior Gap Charles King
  • Good Lord, man, you'll get nabbed if you speed up like this within limits.

    Red Pepper Burns Grace S. Richmond
  • It is quite on the cards that we should find that the police have nabbed him.

    Linda Tressel

    Anthony Trollope
  • He nabbed the first passer-by and asked him to point out Dr. Fitzhugh.

    Unwise Child Gordon Randall Garrett
British Dictionary definitions for nabbed


verb (transitive) (informal) nabs, nabbing, nabbed
to arrest
to catch (someone) in wrongdoing
to seize suddenly; snatch
Word Origin
C17: perhaps of Scandinavian origin; compare Danish nappe, Swedish nappa to snatch. See kidnap
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 nabbed



"to catch (someone)," 1680s, probably a variant of dialectal nap "to seize, catch, lay hold of" (1670s, now surviving only in kidnap), which possibly is from Scandinavian (cf. Norwegian nappe, Swedish nappa "to catch, snatch;" Danish nappe "to pinch, pull"); reinforced by Middle English napand "grasping, greedy." Related: Nabbed; nabbing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for nabbed



(also nabs) A police officer or detective (1950s+ Street gang)


To catch; seize; arrest; collar: The officers nabbed him around the corner (1686+)

[fr dialect nap as in kidnap, perhaps related to Swedish nappa, ''catch,'' or Danish nappe, ''pull''; probably related to nip; the noun sense is recorded in British criminal slang by 1813]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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