verb (used with object), nabbed, nab·bing. Informal.

to arrest or capture.
to catch or seize, especially suddenly.
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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for nabbed

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

Examples from the Web for nabbed

Contemporary Examples of nabbed

Historical Examples of nabbed

  • Nero must have slipped in, nabbed the fish, and brought it to our house.

  • He's nabbed three of the Birdsall gang and is away now after Burleigh.

    Warrior Gap

    Charles King

  • Good Lord, man, you'll get nabbed if you speed up like this within limits.

    Red Pepper Burns

    Grace S. Richmond

  • It is quite on the cards that we should find that the police have nabbed him.

    Linda Tressel

    Anthony Trollope

  • He nabbed the first passer-by and asked him to point out Dr. Fitzhugh.

    Unwise Child

    Gordon Randall Garrett

British Dictionary definitions for nabbed


verb nabs, nabbing or nabbed (tr) informal

to arrest
to catch (someone) in wrongdoing
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 nabbed



"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