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 nibbling

nip, gnaw, eat, snack, peck, munch, crop

Examples from the Web for nibbling

Contemporary Examples of nibbling

  • In the Cavour high school in central Rome, mice run through the halls, nibbling on open wiring and nesting in the lockers.

    The Daily Beast logo
    In Italy, Angry Students Occupy Schools

    Barbie Latza Nadeau

    November 22, 2012

  • Mealtimes encourage appetite and togetherness, but the hours in between are also ideal for nibbling.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Snack Mixes That Won't Bite Back

    Stacey Slate

    December 29, 2009

Historical Examples of nibbling

British Dictionary definitions for nibbling


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 nibbling



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



"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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper