View synonyms for nibble


[ nib-uhl ]

verb (used without object)

, nib·bled, nib·bling.
  1. to bite off small bits.
  2. to eat or chew in small bites:

    Give him a graham cracker to nibble on.

  3. to bite, eat, or chew gently and in small amounts (usually followed by at ):

    She was so upset she could only nibble at her food.

verb (used with object)

, nib·bled, nib·bling.
  1. to bite off small bits of (something).
  2. to eat (food) by biting off small pieces.
  3. to bite in small bits:

    He nibbled each morsel with great deliberation.


  1. a small morsel or bit:

    Each nibble was eaten with the air of an epicure.

    Synonyms: crumb, taste, bite, tidbit

  2. an act or instance of nibbling.
  3. a response by a fish to bait on a fishing line.
  4. any preliminary positive response or reaction.


/ ˈnɪbəl /


  1. (esp of animals, such as mice) to take small repeated bites (of)
  2. to take dainty or tentative bites

    to nibble at a cake

  3. to bite (at) gently or caressingly
  4. intr to make petty criticisms
  5. intr to consider tentatively or cautiously

    to nibble at an idea


  1. a small mouthful
  2. an instance or the act of nibbling
  3. informal.
    plural small items of food, esp savouries, usually served with drinks

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Other Words From

  • un·nibbled adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of nibble1

1425–75; late Middle English nebillen to peck away at, nibble, try, perhaps < Middle Low German nibbelen to pick with the beak; nib, -le

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Word History and Origins

Origin of nibble1

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

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. nibble away at, to cause to decrease or diminish bit by bit: Also nibble at.

    Inflation was nibbling away at her savings. The rains nibbled at the loam.

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Example Sentences

My children eventually returned to school in person, leaving me working from home with Nibbles as my daytime companion.

Enjoy these with casual snacks or appetizers, such as olives, salami and other nibbles.

Inside a cabinet are more snacks, all complimentary, including a selection of savory and sweet nibbles, waters, and even Kombucha.

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

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

It stopped to nibble a few burrs, and when it was shooed on, it didn't stop to walk around the obstruction.

The result was that the sheep came right up to the door to nibble the young and juicy grass.

If they are young hawk-bills, they will nibble the seaweed, and soon go on to crabs and shell-fish, and even little fishes.

Beneath this the girl stopped a moment, and let Bumper nibble at the green grass.

He had tried all day to nibble through it, and dig under it, but the wire had only hurt his teeth without giving way a particle.


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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.