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

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 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 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.

See More

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

Learn More About kibitzer

Time Traveler for kibitzer

Time Traveler

The first known use of kibitzer was in 1922

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About kibitzer

Dictionary Entries Near kibitzer




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for kibitzer

Last Updated

6 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Kibitzer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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