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

Definition of quibble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to evade the point of an argument by caviling about words
2a : cavil, carp
b : bicker

transitive verb

: to subject to quibbles



Definition of quibble (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Other Words from quibble


quibbler \ ˈkwi-​b(ə-​)lər How to pronounce quibble (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for quibble

Synonyms: Verb

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In addition to functioning as a verb, quibble also exists as a noun meaning "an evasion of or shift from the point" and "a minor objection or criticism." Both forms of the word arrived in English in the mid-17th century. Presumably (though not certainly) quibble originated as a diminutive of a now obsolete word, quib, which also meant "quibble." In fact, although language experts may quibble over this, there is a possibility that quib can be traced back to the plural of the Latin word qui, meaning "who," which was often used in legal documents. If so, that makes quibble a very distant cousin of the English 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: Verb His tone was indicative of his expectations, even on a day when the results left little with which to quibble. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, 8 May 2022 Agree or disagree, quibble over facts or impact, but there is a powerful narrative to be told. John Zogby, Forbes, 22 Apr. 2022 Crypto advocates often quibble with these statistics. New York Times, 5 Jan. 2022 But there is no more to quibble over here than there is in any academic text. Julian Baggini, WSJ, 3 Feb. 2022 Seems to me that, if the scientists don’t want film critics to quibble with the science, the scientists should stop meddling with the art. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 6 Jan. 2022 To say that his downward spiral feels inevitable, even circumscribed, is to quibble less with the character than the fatalistic rules of the genre to which the movie belongs. Los Angeles Times, 16 Dec. 2021 Hochman would quibble with this characterization of his compatriots. Sam Adler-bell, The New Republic, 3 Dec. 2021 Nevertheless, his concession was ambiguous: this is not the time to quibble about the degrees of unacceptability of apartheid. Christi Van Der Westhuizen, Quartz, 15 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Our only real quibble is that instructions for some meals are unclear or non-existent, which required a bit of trial-and-error on our part to prepare. Mike Richard, Men's Health, 29 Apr. 2022 My only quibble is the smell, which is initially pretty strong and distinct but subsides after it’s rubbed in. Bella Cacciatore, Glamour, 8 Apr. 2022 That’s a small quibble to make of a novel that is pure pleasure to read. Los Angeles Times, 4 Apr. 2022 Though there was nary a quibble with any of the performances, here are some highlights. Melissa Ruggieri, USA TODAY, 12 Feb. 2022 My only quibble was its permanent-collection interpretation, which seemed to have been taken over by staff focused on childhood education. Brian T. Allen, National Review, 10 Feb. 2022 My disagreement with the Court runs far deeper than a quibble over how many defendants these petitioners may sue. Brigid Kennedy, The Week, 10 Dec. 2021 Then Erskine brought up a lingering editing quibble. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, 29 Nov. 2021 My only quibble with the Holiday Edition is why no Diwali? Nandini Balial, Harper's BAZAAR, 16 Nov. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'quibble.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of quibble


1665, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1650, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for quibble


probably diminutive of obsolete quib quibble

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Time Traveler for quibble

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The first known use of quibble was in 1650

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Last Updated

10 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Quibble.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quibble. Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for quibble


quib·​ble | \ ˈkwi-bəl How to pronounce quibble (audio) \
quibbled; quibbling

Kids Definition of quibble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to argue or complain about small and unimportant things



Kids Definition of quibble (Entry 2 of 2)

: a small and usually unimportant complaint, criticism, or argument

More from Merriam-Webster on quibble

Nglish: Translation of quibble for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of quibble for Arabic Speakers


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