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  1. characterized by or consisting of quibbles; carping; niggling: quibbling debates.
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  1. the act of a person who quibbles.
  2. an instance of quibbling: a relationship marked by frequent quibblings.
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Origin of quibbling

First recorded in 1650–60; quibble + -ing2, -ing1
Related formsquib·bling·ly, adverbun·quib·bling, adjective


  1. an instance of the use of ambiguous, prevaricating, or irrelevant language or arguments to evade a point at issue.
  2. the general use of such arguments.
  3. petty or carping criticism; a minor objection.
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verb (used without object), quib·bled, quib·bling.
  1. to equivocate.
  2. to carp; cavil.
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Origin of quibble

1605–15; perhaps derivative (cf. -le) of quib gibe, apparently akin to quip
Related formsquib·bler, nounout·quib·ble, verb (used with object), out·quib·bled, out·quib·bling.

Synonyms for quibble

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

Related Words for quibbling

complaining, niggling, griping, fault-finding, hairsplitting, nit-picking, captious, elusive, evasive, sophistic, casuistic, prevaricative, sophistical

Examples from the Web for quibbling

Contemporary Examples of quibbling

Historical Examples of quibbling

British Dictionary definitions for quibbling


verb (intr)
  1. to make trivial objections; prevaricate
  2. archaic to play on words; pun
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  1. a trivial objection or equivocation, esp one used to avoid an issue
  2. archaic a pun
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Derived Formsquibbler, nounquibbling, adjective, nounquibblingly, adverb

Word Origin for quibble

C17: probably from obsolete quib, perhaps from Latin quibus (from quī who, which), as used in legal documents, with reference to their obscure phraseology
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 quibbling



1610s, "a pun, a play on words," probably a diminutive of obsolete quib "evasion of point at issue," based on an overuse of Latin quibus? in legal jargon, which supposedly gave it the association with trivial argument. Meaning "equivocation, evasion of the point" is attested from 1660s.

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"equivocate, evade the point, turn from the point in question or the plain truth," 1650s, from quibble (n.). Earlier "to pun" (1620s). Related: Quibbled; quibbling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper