[ dab-uhl ]
See synonyms for: dabbledabblingdabbler on Thesaurus.com

verb (used without object),dab·bled, dab·bling.
  1. to play and splash in or as if in water, especially with the hands.

  2. to work at anything in an irregular or superficial manner: to dabble in literature.

  1. (of a duck) to feed on shallow-water vegetation with rapid, splashing movements of the bill.

verb (used with object),dab·bled, dab·bling.
  1. to wet slightly in or with a liquid; splash; spatter.

  2. Chiefly South Midland U.S. to wash or rinse off lightly.

Origin of dabble

1550–60; probably dab1 + -le; compare Dutch dabbelen, dabben

Other words for dabble

Other words from dabble

  • dabbler, noun
  • dab·bling·ly, adverb
  • un·dab·bled, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use dabble in a sentence

  • In Dornan's telling, Clinton was a "self-indulgent hedonist and phony," a dabbler in drugs, a letch.

    The Original Tea Partier | Bryan Curtis | October 20, 2010 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • Unfortunate Dabbler, now upon his mettle, declared that "should he ever want satisfaction, his solicitor should get it for him."

  • Now Dabbler was a widower; he was not of prepossessing appearance, and his h's troubled him, but Dabbler was a warm man.

  • "To dance implies that a man is glad," and Dabbler was a cheerful-minded fellow enough, but no lady danced with him a second time.

  • But he did not give in without a struggle, and he fought loyally for the absent Dabbler, but the girls were inexorable.

  • Joe hated Raymond Copley with all the contempt that an old sportsman has for an ignorant dabbler in the great game.

    Hard Pressed | Fred M. White

British Dictionary definitions for dabble


/ (ˈdæbəl) /

  1. to dip, move, or splash (the fingers, feet, etc) in a liquid

  2. (intr; usually foll by in, with, or at) to deal (with) or work (at) frivolously or superficially; play (at)

  1. (tr) to daub, mottle, splash, or smear: his face was dabbled with paint

Origin of dabble

C16: probably from Dutch dabbelen; see dab 1

Derived forms of dabble

  • dabbler, noun

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