dab·​ble | \ ˈda-bəl How to pronounce dabble (audio) \
dabbled; dabbling\ ˈda-​b(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce dabbling (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

The band's frontman Brendon Urie has been updating fans with his latest creative effort, dabbling into the heavy metal world. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, "Brendon Urie Teases Heavy Metal Track: Watch," 2 Aug. 2019 After his playing career ended, Buoniconti served as a co-host of Inside the NFL and also dabbled as a player agent. Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY, "Hall of Fame linebacker, ex-Dolphins great Nick Buoniconti dies at 78," 31 July 2019 There was no clean-technology movement at this time, but there were companies dabbling with new uses for solar power and electric vehicles. Los Angeles Times, "Tesla loses a founder, and a piece of its soul," 26 July 2019 Simmons, a junior, appears in line to be the starter, with enough speed and athletic ability for coaches to dabble with him at running back in 2018. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Sizing up Michigan State football's impact backups for 2019," 16 July 2019 Discoveries like these raised the possibility that other bacteria might be dabbling in electricity. New York Times, "Wired Bacteria Form Nature’s Power Grid: ‘We Have an Electric Planet’," 1 July 2019 For anyone who remembers the period where Madge pretended to have a British accent and dabbled in Eastern mysticism, this is the logical extension of the cultural confusion that has defined this century for the sexagenarian pop star. Jonny Coleman, The Hollywood Reporter, "Critic's Notebook: Madonna's Cringe-Worthy 'Madame X'," 14 June 2019 Even Kiernan Shipka's Sabrina is seen dabbling in rich, red shades that go beyond her usual barely-tinted lip balm. Marci Robin, Allure, "The Lipsticks Worn by the Witches of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Are Surprisingly Pricey," 1 Nov. 2018 Graham's comment was a play on the same Islamophobia the president dabbles in, and in the larger scheme, the kind that demonized anyone from the Middle East after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Azadeh Valanejad, Glamour, "Sen. Lindsey Graham's Racist and Islamophobic Comment About Iran Re-Traumatized Me," 22 Oct. 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.

See More

First Known Use of dabble

1557, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for dabble

perhaps frequentative of dab entry 2

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dabble

Dictionary Entries near dabble








Statistics for dabble

Last Updated

11 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dabble

The first known use of dabble was in 1557

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dabble



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 How to pronounce dabble (audio) \
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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


of or relating to the heavens

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!