Origin of dibs
Words nearby dibs
What does dibs mean?
When you call dibs on something, you claim it, especially in advance (before other people can claim it or get to it).
To call dibs, you usually actually say (or shout) dibs, especially while mentioning the thing you’re claiming, as in Dibs on the last slice of pizza! If you’ve got dibs, you consider yourself to have the right to the thing that you’ve made a claim to. Dibs is very informal and is mostly used by kids. It’s especially seen in the phrases call dibs, have dibs, got dibs, and first dibs.
Less commonly, dibs is used as a slang term for small amounts of money or as another name for the game of jacks.
Example: There’s only one cupcake left, but I already called dibs on it.
Where does dibs come from?
The first records of the word dibs come from the early 1700s. It probably comes from a shortening of the word dibstones. Originally, dibs referred to the children’s game called jacks (or a version of it), in which small objects are thrown and then picked up between bounces of a ball. The name of the game of jacks is a shortening of jackstones and early versions of both jacks and dibs were played with pebbles or the knucklebones of animals, such as those of a sheep. (Jacks is sometimes called knucklebones because earlier versions used such bones.)
Today, you’re most likely to hear dibs shouted by kids who are staking their claim to the last of something (like the last mozzarella stick) before other people (their siblings or friends) can take it. Along with giving you the right to the last of something, dibs can also give you the right to the first choice of something, as in I’ve got dibs on first pick for movie night on Friday. For this reason, dibs is often seen in the phrase first dibs, meaning “first choice.”
Dibs is very similar to the common practice among kids of calling shotgun to claim the right to ride in the front seat of a car, or calling fives upon getting up from a seat to “save” that seat for the next five minutes. (You could call dibs on shotgun, but this is slightly unconventional and your rights to shotgun may be disputed.) To kids, all such claims are seen as a binding social contract that must be respected.
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How is dibs used in real life?
Dibs is most commonly used by kids, but it’s sometimes also used by adults as a joke.
We do this weird thing where we sell it to the highest bidder, not the first person to call dibs on Twitter 🤷♂️ https://t.co/Alke3MMItd
— jordan buckley (@JordanETID) March 13, 2020
quick everybody quote tweet the same tweet, i've got dibs on the eyes emoji
— Josh Billinson (@jbillinson) September 10, 2019
— 👑 The CavityKing 🦷 (@TCavityking) April 5, 2020
Try using dibs!
Is dibs used correctly in the following sentence?
I can’t wait till those brownies are done—dibs on a corner piece!
How to use dibs in a sentence
Fish always seem to have the last dibs on water in times of drought.California May Have Its Driest Season in 500 Years|Kate Galbraith|January 24, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Then again, as Goodmann pointed out, “If protocol meant something, the vice president would have first dibs on the White House.”Joe Biden Drops a 2016 Hint by Headlining Harkin Steak Fry in Iowa|Ben Jacobs|August 21, 2013|DAILY BEAST
Plus, Con Ed gets first dibs on whatever comes over the transom.
Why should the Jewish community get first dibs at hanging out the ‘now hiring’ sign?
I've got the dibs for yer ticket done up in this 'ere belt I'm a-goin' to put on you.Harding's luck|E. [Edith] Nesbit
I have a few dibs,' replied Bourgeat joyfully, and he pulled out a greasy old leather purse.The Atheist's Mass|Honore de Balzac
I spoke to the king about it, and Old Dibs he complained to Iosefo, but it only seemed to whoop it up and add to the procession.
I was sleeping very light, and I woke up all of a sudden and saw Old Dibs standing in the doorway!
"It'll never sustain the coin," said Old Dibs, jouncing up and down on it like a dancing hippopotamus.
British Dictionary definitions for dibs
Word Origin for dibs
Other Idioms and Phrases with dibs
see have dibs on.