verb (used without object), nib·bled, nib·bling.

verb (used with object), nib·bled, nib·bling.



    nibble away at, to cause to decrease or diminish bit by bit: Inflation was nibbling away at her savings. The rains nibbled at the loam.Also nibble at.

Origin of nibble

1425–75; late Middle English nebillen to peck away at, nibble, try, perhaps < Middle Low German nibbelen to pick with the beak; cf. nib, -le
Related formsun·nib·bled, adjective

Synonyms for nibble Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for nibble

nip, gnaw, eat, taste, snack, tidbit, peck, crumb, munch, crop

Examples from the Web for nibble

Contemporary Examples of nibble

  • Will he nibble around the edges, or will he actually take on the oil companies?

    The Daily Beast logo
    Clinton’s Environmental Failure

    Bill McKibben

    December 9, 2012

  • Would he be able to nibble on foie gras, slurp fettuccine Alfredo, and sample chocolate mousse without putting on weight again?

    The Daily Beast logo
    Frank Bruni Revealed

    Nicki Gostin

    August 18, 2009

Historical Examples of nibble

British Dictionary definitions for nibble


verb (when intr, often foll by at)

(esp of animals, such as mice) to take small repeated bites (of)
to take dainty or tentative bitesto nibble at a cake
to bite (at) gently or caressingly
(intr) to make petty criticisms
(intr) to consider tentatively or cautiouslyto nibble at an idea


a small mouthful
an instance or the act of nibbling
(plural) informal small items of food, esp savouries, usually served with drinks

Word Origin for nibble

C15: related to Low German nibbelen. Compare nib, neb
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 nibble

"to bite gently," c.1500, perhaps from Low German nibbeln "to nibble, gnaw," related to Middle Low German nibbelen, Middle Dutch knibbelen "to gnaw," source of Dutch knibbelen "to cavail, squabble." Related: Nibbled; nibbling.


1650s, "act of nibbling," from nibble (v.). As "a small bite," from 1838.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper