kibitzer

noun
ki·​bitz·​er | \ ˈki-bət-sər How to pronounce kibitzer (audio) , kə-ˈbit- How to pronounce kibitzer (audio) \
variants: or less commonly kibbitzer

Definition of kibitzer

: one who looks on and often offers unwanted advice or comment a kibitzer at a card game broadly : one who offers opinions

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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," spelled "kibitser" in Yiddish, 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 The problem is partly a failure to appreciate that the Radicals were kibitzers, as many legislators are. Andrew Ferguson, The Atlantic, "Abraham Lincoln’s Radical Moderation," 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, "Planes Crash, So Does the Media," 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, "Why a retired federal worker is helping immigrants pay for the U.S. citizenship exam," 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, "Review: ‘The People v. O.J. Simpson,’ Seen This Time in Double Vision," 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, "The Gabriels Election Year in the Life of One Family, Play Three: Women of a Certain Age," 9 Nov. 2016

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

1922, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for kibitzer

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

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Time Traveler for kibitzer

Time Traveler

The first known use of kibitzer was in 1922

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Cite this Entry

“Kibitzer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kibitzer. Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

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