dab·​ble | \ ˈda-bəl \
dabbled; dabbling\ ˈda-​b(ə-​)liŋ \

Definition of dabble

transitive verb

: to wet by splashing or by little dips or strokes : spatter

intransitive verb

1a : to paddle, splash, or play in or as if in water
b : to reach with the bill to the bottom of shallow water in order to obtain food
2 : to work or involve oneself superficially or intermittently especially in a secondary activity or interest dabbles in art

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Examples of dabble in a Sentence

The ducks dabbled in the stream. She sat by the pool, dabbling her feet in the cool water.

Recent Examples on the Web

Meghan also isn’t the only member of the family to sport darker nails; Kate Middleton has dabbled in bolder shades, too. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Has Also Worn Dark Nail Polish and We Barely Noticed," 11 Dec. 2018 However, the Yandex Phone isn’t the company’s only new product: recently, Yandex has dabbled in smart speakers, investments with Uber, and even self-driving cars. Stefan Etienne, The Verge, "Russian search giant Yandex is releasing an Android phone," 5 Dec. 2018 Other presidential candidates have since dabbled in racial politics: Ronald Reagan lauded states’ rights in a 1980 speech in Neshoba County, Mississippi. Sheryl Gay Stolberg, The Seattle Times, "Two years and hundreds of inflammatory ads later, the G.O.P. is the party of Trump," 6 Nov. 2018 Lohan had just accused Hilton of pouring a drink on her; meanwhile, Spears was dabbling in the party scene following her split from Kevin Federline—and Hilton was her tour guide of sorts. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Are Marriage and Babies the New Naked Selfie?," 27 July 2018 Tesla initially was dismissed by auto executives from Detroit to Germany as a dreamy upstart dabbling in an electric-car market in which consumers had little interest. Rolfe Winkler, WSJ, "Tesla’s Big Question: Better or Worse Off as Private Company," 8 Aug. 2018 Oh yes, and sip and swirl here, too — Huffman likes to dabble in home winemaking, using eco-friendly practices. Harriot Manley, SFChronicle.com, "Favorite escapes for Northern California’s eco-minded congressman," 21 June 2018 And though furniture design was new to him, he’s often dabbled in product design, from a line of skateboards for Supreme to clothing for Uniqlo. Sarah Medford, WSJ, "A Furniture Collaboration That’s Irresistible," 4 Dec. 2018 Amazon dabbles in a bunch of different industries, but not all of its ventures have proven to be successful. Jon Porter, The Verge, "Amazon quietly ends its restaurant delivery service in the UK," 26 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dabble.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dabble

1557, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for dabble

perhaps frequentative of dab entry 2

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Statistics for dabble

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dabble

The first known use of dabble was in 1557

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English Language Learners Definition of dabble

: to take part in an activity in a way that is not serious

: to play or move around in water


dab·​ble | \ ˈda-bəl \
dabbled; dabbling

Kids Definition of dabble

1 : to wet by splashing : spatter
2 : to paddle or play in or as if in water Ducks dabbled in the pond.
3 : to work without any deep involvement I just dabble with art.

Other Words from dabble

dabbler \ ˈda-​blər \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on dabble

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dabble

Spanish Central: Translation of dabble

Nglish: Translation of dabble for Spanish Speakers

Comments on dabble

What made you want to look up dabble? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to settle judicially or to act as judge

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