drib·​ble | \ˈdri-bəl \
dribbled; dribbling\-​(ə-​)liŋ \

Definition of dribble 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to issue sporadically and in small bits

2 : to let or cause to fall in drops little by little

3a : to propel by successive slight taps or bounces with hand, foot, or stick dribble a basketball dribble a puck

b : to hit (a ball) without much force so that it bounces slowly along the ground

intransitive verb

1 : to fall or flow in drops or in a thin intermittent stream : trickle

2 : to let saliva trickle from the corner of the mouth : drool

3 : to come or issue in piecemeal or desultory fashion

4a : to dribble a ball or puck

b : to proceed by dribbling

c of a ball : to move with short bounces



Definition of dribble (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a tiny or insignificant bit or quantity

2 : a small trickling stream or flow

3 : an act, instance, or manner of dribbling a ball or puck

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Other Words from dribble


dribbler \-​b(ə-​)lər \ noun


dribbly \ˈdri-​b(ə-​)lē \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for dribble

Synonyms: Verb

bubble, guggle, gurgle, lap, plash, ripple, splash, trickle, wash

Synonyms: Noun

atom, bit, crumb, fleck, flyspeck, grain, granule, molecule, morsel, mote, nubbin, nugget, particle, patch, scrap, scruple, snip, snippet, speck, tittle

Antonyms: Verb

pour, roll, stream

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Examples of dribble in a Sentence


Juice dribbled down his chin. She accidentally dribbled wine onto the rug. Dribble olive oil over the warm bread before serving. She dribbled across the basketball court. He skillfully dribbled the soccer ball towards the goal.


He wiped a dribble of juice from the corner of the baby's mouth. She gave the ball a dribble before passing it.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Kings want to play that way in the regular season, but often dribbled to much and started their offense too late into the shot clock. Jason Jones, sacbee, "The Kings want to 'get out and run.' Why that best suits Justin Jackson's game," 9 July 2018 Allowing Ellington to play his best requires some measure of patience from a head coach, one who will have to be committed to dribble-handoffs and off-ball screening. Rohan Nadkarni, SI.com, "Playing Matchmaker for Your Favorite NBA Free Agents," 26 June 2018 Griezmann's passing skills and direct style combined with Mbappe's dribbling qualities and frenetic pace should make an excellent strike duo in Russia. Samuel Petrequin, chicagotribune.com, "Star-studded France feeling pressure ahead of debut against Australia," 15 June 2018 Guys stop dribbling near half-court, waltz in and lay the ball in after three steps, at least. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Doc: After losses by Xavier Musketeers and UC Bearcats, how do you describe the indescribable?," 19 Mar. 2018 Graham headed to the floor after a play in which Azubuike dribbled near the top of the key and tried to hand the ball to Graham. Gary Bedore, kansascity, "KU's Graham passes concussion protocol after getting hit in head by Azubuike | The Kansas City Star," 17 Mar. 2018 There are studies that show positive effects on dribbling, passing and timing, and others that show no effects. New York Times, "That Spitting Thing at the World Cup? It’s Probably ‘Carb Rinsing’," 11 July 2018 Dass dribbled a grounder down the foul line, only for the catcher to fumble the ball. Sam Dodge, latimes.com, "Newport Beach PONY All-Stars advance to sectional championship," 8 July 2018 The Paris Saint-Germain star dribbled past Edson Álvarez and Hugo Ayala before forcing El Tri's goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa into a smart save. Ben Carter, Pro Soccer USA, "Brazil 2-0 Mexico: Neymar strike sends Seleção through, spirited El Tri dumped from World Cup," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

An ample amount of liquid nitrogen rains down over the candy, then the staffer picks up the paper holder and rotates it, letting all the extra liquid dribble off until the surface appears clear. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Yes, we flew to Japan to watch someone pour liquid nitrogen on custom Kit Kats," 28 Oct. 2018 Messi is 31 now, still a master of the close-quarters dribble and the quick strike. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "Messi Exits the World Cup. Hours Later, So Does Ronaldo.," 1 July 2018 Almost half of his shot attempts come via catch-and-shoot opportunities and 72 percent of his total shots come without a dribble. J. Michael, Indianapolis Star, "Breaking down Pacers' decision to open free agency by signing journeyman Doug McDermott," 1 July 2018 Peru nearly broke through in the 13th minute when Carrillo executed a step-over dribble to his left, along the edge of the penalty area, and unleash a low, hard left-footer. Brett Martel, BostonGlobe.com, "Kasper Schmeichel dazzles in goal to help lift Denmark past Peru," 16 June 2018 His shoulder-length hair whipping with every crossover dribble, Ginobili scored 11 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter of the do-or-die final contest, willing the Spurs past the defending champion Pistons at the finish line. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "Championship snapshots: The top 10 Finals moments in Spurs history," 2 June 2018 Iverson also was the quickest player of his era with a crossover dribble that was so unstoppable that the rules defining the violation were changed to diminish its lethality. Bill Livingston, cleveland.com, "Cleveland Cavaliers: It's hard to be Isaiah Thomas again -- Bill Livingston (photos)," 29 Jan. 2018 Wood won't wrinkle, lose its shape, end up stained with dribbles of spaghetti sauce and best of all, never requires you learn how to tie a perfect knot. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "Want a unique, polished bow tie look without fiddling with a knot? Try a wooden one," 25 Jan. 2018 Jevon Carter pushes it ahead three dribbles, then finds Daxter Miles in the corner, who quickly passes it back to Carter. Jesse Newell, kansascity, "How Devonté Graham helped save KU ... with a play that’s already happened before," 17 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dribble.' 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 dribble


circa 1589, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


circa 1680, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dribble


frequentative of drib to dribble

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Dictionary Entries near dribble







driblet cone

Statistics for dribble

Last Updated

26 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dribble

The first known use of dribble was circa 1589

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More Definitions for dribble



English Language Learners Definition of dribble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to fall or flow in small drops

: to let (a liquid) fall in small drops

: to let saliva or another liquid drip or trickle from your mouth



English Language Learners Definition of dribble (Entry 2 of 2)

: a small flow of liquid

: an act of moving a ball or puck forward by tapping, bouncing, or kicking it


drib·​ble | \ˈdri-bəl \
dribbled; dribbling

Kids Definition of dribble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to fall or let fall in small drops : trickle Water dribbled out of the crack.

2 : to let saliva or other liquid drip or trickle from the mouth

3 : to move forward by bouncing, tapping, or kicking dribble a basketball



Kids Definition of dribble (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a trickling flow

2 : the act of moving a ball or puck forward by bouncing, kicking, or tapping it

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