verb (used with or without object), jabbed, jab·bing.

to poke, or thrust abruptly or sharply, as with the end or point of a stick.
to punch, especially with a short, quick blow.


a poke with the end or point of something; a sharp, quick thrust.
a short, quick punch.

Origin of jab

1815–25; variant, orig. Scots, of job2
Related formsjab·bing·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for jab

dig, punch, blow, buck, hit, bump, nudge, lunge, push, stab, bunt, jog, thrust, tap, prod

Examples from the Web for jab

Contemporary Examples of jab

Historical Examples of jab

  • Cochise let go the ladder with one hand to jab his knife at Lennon's leg.

    Bloom of Cactus

    Robert Ames Bennet

  • A jab from someone's elbow had decorated Dulcie Vale with a black eye.

  • He shortened his right arm for a jab like the crash of a pile-driver.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service

  • We can jab it off its hook with a billiard-cue, I should think, Moke.

  • If I see another one, I'll jab him with one of these knitting needles.

    Tom Slade with the Colors

    Percy K. Fitzhugh

British Dictionary definitions for jab


verb jabs, jabbing or jabbed

to poke or thrust sharply
to strike with a quick short blow or blows


a sharp poke or stab
a quick short blow, esp (in boxing) a straight punch with the leading hand
informal an injectionpolio jabs
Derived Formsjabbing, adjectivejabbingly, adverb

Word Origin for jab

C19: originally Scottish variant of job
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 jab

1825, "to thrust with a point," Scottish variant of job "to strike, pierce, thrust," from Middle English jobben "to jab, thrust, peck" (late 15c.), of unknown origin, perhaps echoic. Related: Jabbed; jabbing.


1825, from jab (v.). Meaning "a punch with the fist" is from 1889. Sense of "injection with a hypodermic needle," beloved by headline writers, is from 1914.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper