[ nib-uhl ]
See synonyms for: nibblenibblesnibbling on

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. an act or instance of nibbling.

  1. a response by a fish to bait on a fishing line.

  2. any preliminary positive response or reaction.

Idioms about nibble

  1. 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

Other words for nibble

Other words from nibble

  • un·nib·bled, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use nibble in a sentence

  • But Brindle tarried behind and foraged for her supper by nibbling the grass from the overgrown dooryard.

    Dorothy at Skyrie | Evelyn Raymond
  • Kano pensively lifted a plum upon the point of a toothpick and began nibbling at its wrinkled skin.

    The Dragon Painter | Mary McNeil Fenollosa
  • He kept on pulling at one twig after another with his trunk, nibbling and wasting everything.

    Kari the Elephant | Dhan Gopal Mukerji
  • "Master Colombaik feared you had been nibbling the goods on the way," one of the young tanners observed with a laugh.

  • A slight greeting on the ends of her lips, some hurried words, and she returned to the noble battalion nibbling vigorously away.

    The Nabob | Alphonse Daudet

British Dictionary definitions for nibble


/ (ˈnɪbəl) /

verb(when intr, often foll by at)
  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

  1. to bite (at) gently or caressingly

  2. (intr) to make petty criticisms

  3. (intr) to consider tentatively or cautiously: to nibble at an idea

  1. a small mouthful

  2. an instance or the act of nibbling

  1. (plural) informal small items of food, esp savouries, usually served with drinks

Origin of 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