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squib

[skwib]
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noun
  1. a short and witty or sarcastic saying or writing.
  2. Journalism. a short news story, often used as a filler.
  3. a small firework, consisting of a tube or ball filled with powder, that burns with a hissing noise terminated usually by a slight explosion.
  4. a firecracker broken in the middle so that it burns with a hissing noise but does not explode.
  5. Australian. a coward.
  6. an electric, pyrotechnic device for firing the igniter of a rocket engine, especially a solid-propellant engine.
  7. Obsolete. a mean or paltry fellow.
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verb (used without object), squibbed, squib·bing.
  1. to write squibs.
  2. to shoot a squib.
  3. to explode with a small, sharp sound.
  4. to move swiftly and irregularly.
  5. Australian.
    1. to be afraid.
    2. to flee; escape.
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verb (used with object), squibbed, squib·bing.
  1. to assail in squibs or lampoons.
  2. to toss, shoot, or utilize as a squib.
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Origin of squib

First recorded in 1515–25; origin uncertain
Related formssquib·bish, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for squib

Historical Examples

  • Here is a pistol, it is not loaded, but there is powder in the pan, and you can squib it.

    The Buccaneer Chief

    Gustave Aimard

  • He arrived at his climax like a squib that attains its ideal.

    When Ghost Meets Ghost

    William Frend De Morgan

  • But the squib is run to the end of the rope: room for the prodigy of valour.

  • Would Leonidas have fastened a squib to the robe of the Spartan mother?

    Damon and Delia

    William Godwin

  • With eleven illustrations, designed by Squib, and engraved by Point.


British Dictionary definitions for squib

squib

noun
  1. a firework, usually having a tube filled with gunpowder, that burns with a hissing noise and culminates in a small explosion
  2. a firework that does not explode because of a fault; dud
  3. a short witty attack; lampoon
  4. an electric device for firing a rocket engine
  5. obsolete an insignificant person
  6. Australian and NZ slang a coward
  7. damp squib something intended but failing to impress
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verb squibs, squibbing or squibbed
  1. (intr) to sound, move, or explode like a squib
  2. (intr) to let off or shoot a squib
  3. to write a squib against (someone)
  4. (intr) to move in a quick irregular fashion
  5. (intr) Australian slang to behave in a cowardly fashion
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Word Origin

C16: probably imitative of a quick light explosion
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 squib

n.

1520s, "short bit of sarcastic writing, witty scoff," of unknown origin. If the meaning "small firework that burns with a hissing noise" is the original one, the word might be imitative.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper