See more synonyms for nib on
  1. the point of a pen, or either of its divisions.
  2. a penpoint for insertion into a penholder.
  3. a point of anything: a cutting tool with a diamond nib.
  4. a bill or beak, as of a bird; neb.
  5. any pointed extremity.
  6. Metallurgy.
    1. a piece of sintered tungsten carbide used as a die for drawing wire or the like.
    2. (in powder metallurgy) a compact at any stage of its manufacture.

Origin of nib

1575–85; perhaps variant of neb; compare Dutch nib, Middle Low German nibbe (variant of nebbe) beak, Old Norse nibba sharp point. See nibble
Related formsnib·like, adjective


  1. his/her nibs, Informal: Often Facetious. a person in authority, especially one who is demanding and tyrannical: His nibs wants fresh strawberries in December.

Origin of nibs

First recorded in 1815–25; origin uncertain Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for nib

Contemporary Examples of nib

  • When the cocoa beans are roasted, their shells crack to expose the nib, which is then ground into a thick paste.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Four Chocolate Questions Answered

    Mary Goodbody

    September 29, 2009

Historical Examples of nib

British Dictionary definitions for nib


  1. the writing point of a pen, esp an insertable tapered metal part with a split tip
  2. a point, tip, or beak
  3. (plural) crushed cocoa beans
verb nibs, nibbing or nibbed (tr)
  1. to provide with a nib
  2. to prepare or sharpen the nib of
Derived Formsniblike, adjective

Word Origin for nib

C16 (in the sense: beak): origin obscure; compare Northern German nibbe tip. See neb, nibble


  1. his nibs (functioning as singular) slang a mock title used of someone in authority

Word Origin for nibs

C19: of unknown origin
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 nib

1580s, "beak or bill of a bird," Scottish variant of Old English neb (see neb). Meaning "point" (of a pen or quill) first recorded 1610s.



especially in His Nibs "boss, employer, self-important person," 1821, of unknown origin; perhaps a variant of nob "person of high position."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

nib in Medicine


  1. The smooth or serrated portion of a dental instrument that comes into contact with restorative material being condensed.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.