[ nip ]
See synonyms for nip on
verb (used with object),nipped, nip·ping.
  1. to squeeze or compress tightly between two surfaces or points; pinch; bite.

  2. to take off by pinching, biting, or snipping (usually followed by off): He nipped off a piece of steak and gave it to the dog.

  1. to check in growth or development.

  2. to affect sharply and painfully or injuriously, as a very cold temperature: a cold wind that nips the fingers.

  3. Informal. to snatch away suddenly.

  4. Informal. to defeat (an opponent) by a very close margin; edge out.

  5. Informal. to steal or pilfer.

  6. Nautical.

    • (of ice) to press (a ship) from opposite sides.

    • to seize (a taut rope) to another rope.

verb (used without object),nipped, nip·ping.
  1. Chiefly British Slang. to leave stealthily; sneak away; flee (often followed by away).

  1. an act of nipping; a pinch or small bite: The dog took several nips at our heels.

  2. a biting quality, as in cold or frosty air: There's a nip in the air this morning.

  1. sharp cold; a sharp touch of frost: The trees had felt the first nip of winter.

  2. a sharp or biting remark.

  3. a biting taste or tang, especially in some cheese.

  4. a small bit or quantity of anything: a nip of bread to stave off hunger.

  5. Nautical.

    • an abrupt turn or twist in a rope.

    • a part of a rope or chain bound by a seizing or nipper.

  6. Usually nips. nipper (def. 2).

Idioms about nip

  1. nip and tuck, with each competitor equaling or closely contesting the speed, scoring, or efforts of the other: It was nip and tuck as to which sailboat would reach port first.

  2. nip in the bud. bud1 (def. 13).

Origin of nip

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English nippen, nipe(n), nip “to bite, pinch,” from Old Norse hnippa “to poke, thrust”

Other words for nip

Other definitions for nip (2 of 3)

[ nip ]

  1. a small drink of alcoholic liquor; sip: a person who relishes an occasional nip.

  2. Chiefly British. split (def. 27).

verb (used with or without object),nipped, nip·ping.
  1. to drink (alcoholic liquor) in small sips, especially repeatedly.

Origin of nip

First recorded in 1690–1700; from Dutch nippen “to sip”; in def. 2, short for earlier nipperkin “vessel holding half-pint or less”

Other definitions for Nip (3 of 3)

[ nip ]

noun, adjectiveSlang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive.
  1. a contemptuous term used to refer to a Japanese person.

Origin of Nip

First recorded in 1942; short for Nipponese

usage note For Nip

This term, patterned on the earlier term Jap , was first used in English shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use nip in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for nip (1 of 3)


/ (nɪp) /

verbnips, nipping or nipped (mainly tr)
  1. to catch or tightly compress, as between a finger and the thumb; pinch

  2. (often foll by off) to remove by clipping, biting, etc

  1. (when intr, often foll by at) to give a small sharp bite (to): the dog nipped at his heels

  2. (esp of the cold) to affect with a stinging sensation

  3. to harm through cold: the frost nipped the young plants

  4. to check or destroy the growth of (esp in the phrase nip in the bud)

  5. slang to steal

  6. (intr; foll by along, up, out, etc) British informal to hurry; dart

  7. slang, mainly US and Canadian to snatch

  1. the act of nipping; a pinch, snip, etc

    • a frosty or chilly quality

    • severe frost or cold: the first nip of winter

  1. a small piece or quantity: he went out for a nip of fresh air

  2. a sharp flavour or tang

  3. archaic a taunting remark

  4. nip and tuck

    • mainly US and Canadian neck and neck

    • informal plastic surgery performed for cosmetic reasons

  5. put the nips in Australian and NZ slang to exert pressure on someone, esp in order to extort money

Origin of nip

C14: of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse hnippa to prod

British Dictionary definitions for nip (2 of 3)


/ (nɪp) /

  1. a small drink of spirits; dram

  2. mainly British a measure of spirits usually equal to one sixth of a gill

verbnips, nipping or nipped
  1. to drink (spirits), esp habitually in small amounts

Origin of nip

C18: shortened from nipperkin a vessel holding a half-pint or less, of uncertain origin; compare Dutch nippen to sip

British Dictionary definitions for Nip (3 of 3)


/ (nɪp) /

  1. slang a derogatory word for a Japanese

Origin of Nip

C20: short for Nipponese

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