- (in a web browser window or in a spreadsheet or other application) a page displayed by clicking on or selecting a user interface element that resembles a paper tab:The third tab in the spreadsheet list expenses.
- the display of this user interface element:I have too many tabs open in my browser right now.
- a small, often narrow, drop curtain, for masking part of the stage.
- tableau curtain.
verb (used with object), tabbed, tab·bing.
verb (used without object), tabbed, tab·bing.
Origin of tab1
verb tabs, tabbing or tabbed
Word Origin for tab
"small flap," c.1600, possibly a dialectal word, of uncertain origin. Often interchangeable with tag (n.1). Cf. also Middle English tab "strap or string" (mid-15c.), Norwegian dialectal tave "piece of cloth, rag."
"account, bill, check," 1888, American English colloquial, probably a shortened form of tabulation or of tablet in the sense of "a sheet for writing on." Figurative phrase keep a tab on is recorded from 1890.
"to designate, label," 1924, perhaps an alteration of tag (v.2). Related: Tabbed; tabbing.
keep tabs on
Observe carefully, keep a record of. For example, I hate having my boss keep tabs on my every move, or We've got to keep tabs on outgoing mail so we can keep track of postage. This expression uses to tab in the sense of “an account.” [Late 1800s] Also see keep track.
see keep tabs on.