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quib·​ble ˈkwi-bəl How to pronounce quibble (audio)
quibbled; quibbling ˈkwi-b(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce quibble (audio)

intransitive verb

: to evade the point of an argument by caviling about words
: cavil, carp
: bicker

transitive verb

: to subject to quibbles
quibbler noun


2 of 2


: an evasion of or shift from the point
: a minor objection or criticism

Did you know?

Quibble is most familiar as a verb, but it can also function as a noun meaning "an evasion of or shift from the point" and "a minor objection or criticism." Both forms of quibble settled into English in the mid-17th century, presumably (though not definitively) as a diminutive of a now-obsolete noun quib, meaning “quibble.” Quib in turn may have come from a form of Latin qui, meaning “who,” a distant relation also of our word who.

Examples of quibble in a Sentence

Verb he spent the entire evening quibbling about the historical inaccuracies in the television series on World War II don't quibble over who gets to sit in front Noun Our only quibble about the trip was that it rained a lot.
Recent Examples on the Web
Oklahoma might quibble with that version of events, as its defense struggled in similar fashion to USC by the end of that tenure. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, 5 Nov. 2023 Some within the team quibble with definitions of leadership. Andrew Greif, Los Angeles Times, 2 Oct. 2023 Readers may quibble with some of Jiles’s plotting — a pair of fortuitous meetings, a deflating final twist — but there can be no quibbling with the dramatic tension in her rendering of the chaotic, wretchedly despoiled landscape Chenneville encounters. Alida Becker, New York Times, 15 Sep. 2023 But video game enthusiasts, including a sizable audience of Gran Turismo devotees and motorsports fans motivated by Sony’s intensive marketing campaign, are unlikely to quibble much with the film’s limited dramatic arc, making an enthusiastic initial turnout a fair bet. Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Aug. 2023 Blake Mills has the kind of CV, and accompanying reputation, that leaves little to quibble with. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 6 July 2023 One student quibbled with the teacher’s evaluation. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, 22 June 2023 No one quibbles about his ability to light up the transfer portal and build rosters in a hurry. Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas News, 13 Mar. 2023 The Astros won't quibble with eight players on the ESPN top 100. Michael Shapiro, Chron, 23 Mar. 2023
But even with all my gripes and quibbles, the Pixel Watch gives me hope that Wear OS has brighter days ahead. Brandon Widder, The Verge, 15 Sep. 2023 Our only quibble is that the firmness is the same on both sides, so there’s not a softer side to move up to. Jessica Hartshorn, goodhousekeeping.com, 9 May 2023 Of course, that’s a minor quibble considering the reasonable price, but something to keep in mind before purchasing. Ashlea Halpern, wsj.com, 21 Oct. 2023 Each one had a notable mechanical quibble that had to be worked out with Swytch’s support staff. Kevin Purdy, Ars Technica, 20 Oct. 2023 There were some quibbles that the structure of the second season meant stars Devery Jacobs, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Lane Factor and Paulina Alexis spent very little time together, though the group road trip to Los Angeles in the finale was a season peak. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 June 2023 Photograph: Quentin Bacon Still, those are tiny quibbles about a fantastic book. Joe Ray, WIRED, 6 Sep. 2023 Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff These are quibbles, because the Winsor House experience is lovely. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 2 May 2023 The only quibble: giving a five-year deal to Tristan Jarry, who's an All-Star but has had injury issues. Mike Brehm, USA TODAY, 29 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History



probably diminutive of obsolete quib quibble

First Known Use


1665, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1650, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of quibble was in 1650


Dictionary Entries Near quibble

Cite this Entry

“Quibble.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quibble. Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
quib·​ble ˈkwib-əl How to pronounce quibble (audio)
quibbled; quibbling -(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce quibble (audio)
: to talk about unimportant things rather than the real point
stop quibbling about words and tell what happened
: to find fault or argue over unimportant points
people ignored the main point of the speech and quibbled about its length
quibbler noun


2 of 2 noun
: a statement that deals with a minor matter and not the real point under discussion
: a minor objection or criticism

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