noun (1)
\ ˈdab How to pronounce dab (audio) \
plural dabs

Definition of dab

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1 : a gentle touch or stroke : pat A moment of silence, a dab at the eye, a painful swallow before the roar of applause.— Masha Leon
2 : something that is dabbed on : daub, smear … spots of bright-pink wild cyclamen … like the paint dabs on a pointillist's canvas.Vogue
3 : a small amount The flat shell should be prized off and the oysters eaten raw, with a squeeze of lemon juice and a dab of horseradish if you like.— Nancy Jenkins A dab of mousse works in seconds "shaping" a style in the time it takes a woman to run her fingers through her hair.— Shari Miller Sims
4 slang
a : a concentrated extract of cannabis that is prepared by treating cannabis with a solvent (such as butane) and is used by heating the concentrate on a hot surface (as of metal or glass) and inhaling the vapors

Note: Dab occurs in several forms including a resinous sticky oil, a crumbly wax, or a brittle solid.

Marijuana potency is described in terms of the percentage of THC. Most marijuana has about 10 to 15 percent THC. Dab has a THC of 80 to 90 percent.— Chuck Biedka Dab is a product made by using butane (a highly flammable gas used in camping fuel canisters and cigarette lighters) to extract the concentrated cannabis oil from plants …— Jeff Linville
b : a single dose of dab Nothing like a joint, a dab is a small dose of highly concentrated cannabis heated on a hot surface and then inhaled.— Amy Hansen The last thing he would remember in the morning was taking a shot of spiced rum and a dab of marijuana.— Gavin Butler
5 : a dance move originating in hip-hop that is performed by bending one arm at the elbow, dropping the head so that the face is near the crook of that arm, and usually extending the other arm so that it is parallel with the forearm of the bent arm He does the dab, a dance move that looks like he's sneezing into his elbow.— Jessica Contrera During Hillary Clinton's 2016 Presidential campaign, she learned to do the dab—a dance that Migos made popular …— Sheldon Pearce As Newton appears to show in his coaching tips, there's more to the dab. The quarterback has Bailey make sure to lean into the move, ducking his head down while sharply raising his front arm and jutting his back arm backward.— Nick O'Malley
6 archaic : a sudden blow or thrust : poke

— see also dab hand, smack-dab


dabbed; dabbing; dabs

Definition of dab (Entry 2 of 5)

transitive verb

1 : to strike or touch lightly : pat Her eyes watered occasionally, and she was forced to dab them with a tissue.— John Grisham
2 : to apply lightly or irregularly : daub In the past, restoring a frescoed wall involved little more than covering the cracks and dabbing fresh paint on the surface in an attempt to recapture some of its original color.— George Armstrong Dab or spray the scent on your … wrist.Harper's Bazaar
3 slang : to inhale the vapors of (a heated concentrate of cannabis) More than half of students who use marijuana reported that they dab marijuana to get high.— Rachel O'Bryan In 2015, 28 percent of Colorado high-schoolers who admitted to consuming marijuana within the past month said that they had also dabbed it, according to the CDPHE [Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment].— Thomas Mitchell

intransitive verb

1 : to touch or pat something lightly The Doctor paused to remove his glasses and dab at his eyes with a handkerchief.— T. Coraghessan Boyle
2 slang : to inhale the vapors of a heated concentrate of cannabis : to take a dab (see dab entry 1 sense 4b) And if you have ever dabbed …, or even just smoked some weed that was profoundly stronger than your usual stuff, that short list of symptoms probably sounds familiar.— Meagan Angus In Wisconsin, health officials are still investigating increasing reports of people with severe lung disease who say they've recently vaped or "dabbed," which involves inhaling marijuana products.— Michael Nedelman
3 : to perform a dab (see dab entry 1 sense 5) or a series of dabs (as while dancing or in celebration) Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton made the move famous last year after he starting dabbing as his touchdown celebration.— Meg Anderson Migos joined Corden for a little Carpool Karaoke on Tuesday, where the late-night host offered his sincere condolences on behalf of uncool dads everywhere for driving their dance move into the ground. Then he immediately dabbed to Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody."— Halle Kiefer


noun (2)

Definition of dab (Entry 3 of 5)

: flatfish especially : any of several flounders (genus Limanda, especially L. limanda) — compare sand dab


noun (3)

Definition of dab (Entry 4 of 5)

chiefly British
: a skillful person

Definition of DAB (Entry 5 of 5)

Dictionary of American Biography

Other Words from dab


dabber noun, plural dabbers
dabbing noun, plural dabbings
The brush work is a furious battle ground—there are … fierce, smudgy dabbings of brute colour … — Michael Glover … an opportunity for cannabis companies to promote their concentrates and dabbing aficionados to enjoy a day on the couch. — Veronica Irwin Dabbing, a dance move which some say looks like sneezing, originated from hip-hop … — Aarushi Ahuja

Synonyms & Antonyms for dab

Synonyms: Noun (1)

Synonyms: Noun (3)

Antonyms: Noun (3)

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First Known Use of dab

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 6


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (3)

1691, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for dab

Noun (1)

Middle English dabbe

Noun (2)

Anglo-French dabbe

Noun (3)

origin unknown

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The first known use of dab was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Dab.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dab. Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for dab


\ ˈdab How to pronounce dab (audio) \

Kids Definition of dab

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a small amount Add a dab of butter.
2 : a light quick touch


dabbed; dabbing

Kids Definition of dab (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to strike or touch lightly Dabbing at his streaming nose, Filch squinted unpleasantly at Harry …— J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
2 : to apply with light or uneven strokes She dabbed on more paint.

More from Merriam-Webster on dab

Nglish: Translation of dab for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dab for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about dab


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