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See more synonyms for nimble on Thesaurus.com
adjective, nim·bler, nim·blest.
  1. quick and light in movement; moving with ease; agile; active; rapid: nimble feet.
  2. quick to understand, think, devise, etc.: a nimble mind.
  3. cleverly contrived: a story with a nimble plot.
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Origin of nimble

before 1000; late Middle English nymel, earlier nemel, Old English nǣmel capable, equivalent to nǣm- (variant stem of niman to take; see nim1) + -el -le
Related formsnim·ble·ness, nounnim·bly, adverbun·nim·ble, adjectiveun·nim·ble·ness, nounun·nim·b·ly, adverb


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1. clumsy.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for nimbly

Historical Examples

  • The devil was large and clumsy, but Sun Wu Kung leaped about nimbly.

    The Chinese Fairy Book


  • Wilson made his feet and the other followed as nimbly as a cat.

    The Web of the Golden Spider

    Frederick Orin Bartlett

  • Dexter rose, and Dick got to his feet as nimbly as he could.

  • A rope was thrown him, by the aid of which he nimbly clambered aboard.

  • And all the idlers were laughing because it was done so nimbly.

    The Young Mountaineers

    Charles Egbert Craddock

British Dictionary definitions for nimbly


  1. agile, quick, and neat in movementnimble fingers
  2. alert; acutea nimble intellect
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Derived Formsnimbleness, nounnimbly, adverb

Word Origin

Old English nǣmel quick to grasp, and numol quick at seizing, both from niman to take
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 nimbly


mid-14c., from nimble + -ly (adv.).

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"agile, light-footed," c.1300, nemel, from Old English næmel "quick to grasp" (attested but once), related to niman "to take," from Proto-Germanic *nemanan (cf. Old Saxon, Old Dutch, Gothic niman, Old Norse nema, Old Frisian nima, German nehmen "to take"), from PIE root *nem- "to divide, distribute, allot," also "to take" (cf. Greek nemein "to deal out," nemesis "just indignation," Latin numerus "number," Lithuanian nuoma "rent, interest," Middle Irish nos "custom, usage"). With excrescent -b- from c.1500 (cf. limb (n.1)). Related: Nimbleness. In 17c., English had nimblechaps "talkative fellow."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper