ki·​bitz·​er ˈki-bət-sər How to pronounce kibitzer (audio) kə-ˈbit- How to pronounce kibitzer (audio)
variants or less commonly kibbitzer
: one who looks on and often offers unwanted advice or comment
a kibitzer at a card game
broadly : one who offers opinions

Did you know?

The Yiddish language has given English some particularly piquant terms over the years, and kibitzer (or kibbitzer) is one such term. Kibitzer, from the Yiddish kibitser, came to that language from the German word kiebitzen, meaning "to look on (at cards)." Kiebitzen may or may not be derived from a German word for "lapwing," a type of bird noted for its shrill and raucous cry. (We can speculate that the bird's cry reminded people of the shrill commentary of onlookers at card games.) The word became more popular and widespread after the 1929 play The Kibitzer came out. Although kibitzer usually implies the imparting of unwanted advice, there is a respectable body of evidence for a kibitzer as a person simply making comments.

Examples of kibitzer in a Sentence

a nosy kibitzer who always knows who is dating whom
Recent Examples on the Web Still, there are boundaries to keep the kibitzers out of the law library, operating room and locker room so the experts can get the job done. Karla L. Miller, Anchorage Daily News, 25 Feb. 2023 These two teamed up on morning radio in 1946 to invent the celebrity-interview talk show, featuring a gamut of guests from Hollywood mermaid Esther Williams to kibitzer-to-presidents Bernard Baruch. Edward Kosner, WSJ, 21 Nov. 2022 The problem is partly a failure to appreciate that the Radicals were kibitzers, as many legislators are. Andrew Ferguson, The Atlantic, 12 Mar. 2020 Most Americans by now have probably figured out the kibitzer-in-chief’s tweets lack the force of policy, much less the force of law. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, 12 Mar. 2019 They were intently focused, paying no attention to the parade of gym-goers, game-players and kibitzers noisily passing by. Patricia Sullivan, Washington Post, 27 Feb. 2018 Ms. Paulson makes her a flawed but tragic heroine: a divorced mom, strapped for child care, battling a legal hydra made of money while the tabloids pick at her hairstyle and kibitzers tell her to smile more. James Poniewozik, New York Times, 1 Feb. 2016 Though all of Mr. Nelson’s Rhinebeck plays have featured strong female characters, in this one, he more or less turns the stage over to them entirely (though Mr. Sanders, wonderful as always, is a gallant kibitzer). Ben Brantley, New York Times, 9 Nov. 2016

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'kibitzer.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Yiddish kibetser, from kibetsn "to kibitz" + -er -er entry 2

First Known Use

1922, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of kibitzer was in 1922


Dictionary Entries Near kibitzer

Cite this Entry

“Kibitzer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


ki·​bitz·​er ˈkib-ət-sər How to pronounce kibitzer (audio) kə-ˈbit- How to pronounce kibitzer (audio)
: a person who looks on and often offers unwanted advice especially at a card game
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