See more synonyms for nab on
verb (used with object), nabbed, nab·bing. Informal.
  1. to arrest or capture.
  2. to catch or seize, especially suddenly.
  3. to snatch or steal.

Origin of nab

1675–85; earlier nap; perhaps < Scandinavian; compare Danish nappe, Norwegian, Swedish nappa to snatch
Related formsnab·ber, noun


  1. Also N.A.B. National Association of Broadcasters.
  2. New American Bible. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for nab

cop, capture, apprehend, clutch, snatch, nail, arrest, take, catch, grab, detain

Examples from the Web for nab

Contemporary Examples of nab

Historical Examples of nab

British Dictionary definitions for nab


verb nabs, nabbing or nabbed (tr) informal
  1. to arrest
  2. to catch (someone) in wrongdoing
  3. to seize suddenly; snatch

Word Origin for nab

C17: perhaps of Scandinavian origin; compare Danish nappe, Swedish nappa to snatch. See kidnap
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 nab

"to catch (someone)," 1680s, probably a variant of dialectal nap "to seize, catch, lay hold of" (1670s, now surviving only in kidnap), which possibly is from Scandinavian (cf. Norwegian nappe, Swedish nappa "to catch, snatch;" Danish nappe "to pinch, pull"); reinforced by Middle English napand "grasping, greedy." Related: Nabbed; nabbing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper