See more synonyms for nipper on
  1. a person or thing that nips.
  2. Usually nippers. a device for nipping, as pincers or forceps.
  3. one of the two large claws of a crustacean.
  4. Metalworking. dog(def 13).
  5. nippers, Older Slang. handcuffs.
  6. Informal.
    1. a small boy.
    2. Chiefly British.a costermonger's helper or assistant.
  7. Nautical. a short rope for seizing an anchor cable to a messenger from a capstan.

Origin of nipper

First recorded in 1525–35; nip1 + -er1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for nipper

lad, boy, youngster, child, biter

Examples from the Web for nipper

Historical Examples of nipper

  • I learnt to swim when I was a little bit of a nipper and went with the boys at school.

    Jack at Sea

    George Manville Fenn

  • "Blessed if I ever see such a nipper," he said, over and over again.

    Harding's luck

    E. [Edith] Nesbit

  • Why, when I was a nipper every morning of my life I had a cold bath, winter and summer.


    James Joyce

  • Mr. Nipper, the boatswain, sir, the last shot has cut him in two.

  • Rest easy a spell, Nipper, and I'll rest too, and listen how he does that.

    Pippin; A Wandering Flame

    Laura E. Richards

British Dictionary definitions for nipper


  1. a person or thing that nips
  2. the large pincer-like claw of a lobster, crab, or similar crustacean
  3. informal a small child
  4. Australian a type of small prawn used as bait
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 nipper

"small boy," 1859, originally (1530s) a pickpocket who "pinched" other people's property; see nip (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper