verb (used without object)

to engage in petulant or peevish argument; wrangle: The two were always bickering.
to run rapidly; move quickly; rush; hurry: a stream bickering down the valley.
to flicker; glitter: The sun bickered through the trees.


an angry, petty dispute or quarrel; contention.

Origin of bicker

1250–1300; Middle English bikeren < ?
Related formsbick·er·er, nounun·bick·ered, adjectiveun·bick·er·ing, adjective

Synonyms for bicker Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bickering

Contemporary Examples of bickering

Historical Examples of bickering

  • What use of logic, where there was no bickering about the double-meaning words?

    The Praise of Folly

    Desiderius Erasmus

  • And there were the dogs, ever squabbling and bickering, bursting into uproars and creating confusions.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • As it was, the Philosophers contented themselves with bickering.

    Tom, Dick and Harry

    Talbot Baines Reed

  • The bickering and rivalries must have been part of the camouflage.

    A Slave is a Slave

    Henry Beam Piper

  • I am tired of war, tired of bickering, tired of watching and being watched.

    Long Live the King

    Mary Roberts Rinehart

British Dictionary definitions for bickering


verb (intr)

to argue over petty matters; squabble
  1. (esp of a stream) to run quickly
  2. to flicker; glitter


a petty squabble
Derived Formsbickerer, nounbickering, noun, adjective

Word Origin for bicker

C13: of unknown origin
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 bickering

c.1300, "a skirmish," from bicker (v.). Meaning "a verbal wrangle" is from 1570s.


1808 in the sense of "contentious," present participle adjective from bicker (v.). Earlier it was used to mean "flashing, quivering" (1660s).



early 14c., bikere, "to skirmish, fight," perhaps from Middle Dutch bicken "to slash, stab, attack," + -er, Middle English frequentative suffix. Meaning "to quarrel" is from mid-15c. Related: Bickered; bickering.



c.1300, skirmish, battle; from the same source as bicker (v.). In modern use, often to describe the sound of a flight of an arrow or other repeated, loud, rapid sounds, in which sense it is perhaps at least partly echoic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper