a person or thing that dips.
a cuplike container with a long handle, used for dipping liquids.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy.
  1. Big Dipper.
  2. Little Dipper.
Ornithology. Also called water ouzel. any small, stocky diving bird of the family Cinclidae, related to the thrushes, especially Cinclus aquaticus of Europe and C. mexicanus of western North America, having dense, oilyplumage and frequenting rapid streams and rivers.
South Midland and Southern U.S. a person who uses snuff.

Origin of dipper

1350–1400; Middle English: diving bird; see dip1, -er1

Little Dipper

noun Astronomy.

the group of seven bright stars in Ursa Minor resembling a dipper in outline.

Origin of Little Dipper

First recorded in 1835–45
Also called Dipper.

Big Dipper

noun Astronomy.

the group of seven bright stars in Ursa Major resembling a dipper in outline.

Origin of Big Dipper

First recorded in 1865–70
Also called Dipper.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for dipper

scoop, spoon, bucket, pail, cup

Examples from the Web for dipper

Contemporary Examples of dipper

  • Most people smoke a dipper and chill, but I would smoke like six a night.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The New Rise of PCP

    Jeff Deeney

    April 22, 2011

Historical Examples of dipper

  • She was watching the little girl, who was running into the house with the dipper.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • It is called the Dipper because it is shaped like a dipper with a long, bent handle.

    Boy Scouts Handbook

    Boy Scouts of America

  • Penn couldn't stand that no more'n a dog with a dipper to his tail.

    "Captains Courageous"

    Rudyard Kipling

  • This star is the faintest of the seven which form the Dipper.

    A Field Book of the Stars

    William Tyler Olcott

  • This explained the absence of the rustic seat and the dipper.

    Rudder Grange

    Frank R. Stockton

British Dictionary definitions for dipper



a ladle used for dipping
Also called: water ouzel any aquatic songbird of the genus Cinclus and family Cinclidae, esp C. cinclus. They inhabit fast-flowing streams and resemble large wrens
a slang word for pickpocket
a person or thing that dips, such as the mechanism for directing car headlights downwards
a small metal cup clipped onto a painter's palette for holding diluent or medium
archaic an Anabaptist
See also big dipper

Big Dipper


the US and Canadian name for Plough

Little Dipper


the Little Dipper US and Canadian a small faint constellation, the brightest star of which is the Pole Star, lying 1° from the true celestial poleAlso known as: Ursa Minor, the Bear, the Little Bear

big dipper


(in amusement parks) a narrow railway with open carriages that run swiftly over a route of sharp curves and steep inclinesAlso called: roller coaster
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 dipper

late 14c., as a type of diving bird, agent noun from dip (v.). As a ladle or long-handled utensil for drawing liquid, from 1783, chiefly American English. As the popular U.S. name for the asterism known in Britain as The Plough or Charles' Wain, attested by 1833.

Big Dipper


American English name for the seven-star asterism (known in England as the plough; see Charles's Wain) in the constellation Ursa Major, first attested 1833 as simply the Dipper (sometimes Great Dipper, its companion constellation always being the Little Dipper). See dipper.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

dipper in Science

Big Dipper

An asterism composed of seven stars in the constellation Ursa Major. Four stars form the bowl and three form the handle in the outline of a dipper.

Little Dipper


An asterism composed of seven stars in the constellation Ursa Minor that form the outline of a dipper.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

dipper in Culture

Big Dipper

A constellation in the northern sky. The two stars on the far end of the bowl of the dipper point toward the North Star. The Big Dipper is part of the constellation Ursa Major (the Great Bear).

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.