[ tab ]
See synonyms for tab on
  1. a small flap, strap, loop, or similar appendage, as on a garment, used for pulling, hanging, or decoration.

  2. a tag or label.

  1. a small projection from a card, paper, or folder, used as an aid in filing.

  2. Informal.

    • a bill, as for a meal in a restaurant; check: That dinner went way over my budget, so I was relieved when she offered to pick up the tab.

    • a list of accruing costs, as drinks ordered in a bar: Go ahead and order another round of beers—we’ve got a running tab.

  3. a small piece attached or intended to be attached, as to an automobile license plate.

  4. a small flap or tongue of material used to seal or close the opening of a container.

  5. Also called tabulator, tab key . a key on a typewriter that moves the carriage, typing element, etc., a predetermined number of spaces, used for typing text in columns, for fixed indentations, etc.

  6. Also called tab key . a key on a computer keyboard that moves the cursor a predetermined number of spaces, used for keying text in columns or form fields, for fixed indentations, etc.

  7. Digital Technology.

    • (in a web browser window or in a spreadsheet or other application) a page displayed by clicking on or selecting a user interface element that resembles a paper tab:The third tab in the spreadsheet list expenses.

    • the display of this user interface element:I have too many tabs open in my browser right now.

  8. Theater.

    • a small, often narrow, drop curtain, for masking part of the stage.

  9. Aeronautics. a small airfoil hinged to the rear portion of a control surface, as to an elevator, aileron, or rudder.: Compare trim tab.

verb (used with object),tabbed, tab·bing.
  1. to furnish or ornament with a tab or tabs.

  2. to name or designate.

verb (used without object),tabbed, tab·bing.
  1. to operate the tab function on a typewriter or computer.

Idioms about tab

  1. keep tabs / tab on, Informal. to keep an account of; check on; observe: The police kept tabs on the suspect's activities.

Origin of tab

First recorded in 1600–10; most senses of unknown origin;in def. 7 short for tabulator; in def. 10 short for tableau; in defs. 4, 15 short for table

Other definitions for tab (2 of 3)

[ tab ]

  1. Slang. a tablet, as of a drug or medication.

  2. Informal. tabloid (def. 1).

Origin of tab

First recorded in 1920–25; by shortening

Other definitions for tab. (3 of 3)


  1. tables.

  2. (in prescriptions) tablet.

Origin of tab.

From the Latin word tabella Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use tab in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for tab (1 of 4)


/ (tæb) /

  1. a small flap of material, esp one on a garment for decoration or for fastening to a button

  2. any similar flap, such as a piece of paper attached to a file for identification

  1. a small auxiliary aerofoil on the trailing edge of a rudder, aileron, or elevator, etc, to assist in the control of the aircraft in flight: See also trim tab

  2. British military the insignia on the collar of a staff officer

  3. mainly US and Canadian a bill, esp one for a meal or drinks

  4. Scot and Northern English dialect a cigarette

  5. keep tabs on informal to keep a watchful eye on

verbtabs, tabbing or tabbed
  1. (tr) to supply (files, clothing, etc) with a tab or tabs

Origin of tab

C17: of unknown origin

British Dictionary definitions for tab (2 of 4)


/ (tæb) /

  1. short for tabulator, tablet

  2. slang a portion of a drug, esp LSD or ecstasy

British Dictionary definitions for TAB (3 of 4)


abbreviation for
  1. typhoid-paratyphoid A and B (vaccine)

  2. Australian and NZ Totalizator Agency Board

British Dictionary definitions for tab. (4 of 4)


abbreviation for
  1. table (list or chart)

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with tab


see keep tabs on.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.