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

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Other Words from quibble


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

Synonyms for quibble

Synonyms: Verb

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Did You Know?


Quibble can also be a noun meaning "an evasion of or shift from the point" or "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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Sanders might quibble with the numbers, but the vast gap between the scale of his own programs and those of his rivals suggests something about why his supporters have been so hard for other Democrats to pull away. Benjamin Wallace-wells, The New Yorker, "Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Front-Runner," 1 Feb. 2020 One may quibble with how precisely the spirit of the Beatles matches the spirit of Monty Python, although the timing is intriguing. Mark Dawidziak, cleveland, "Terry Jones brought many gifts, including Spam, to the Monty Python lunacy machine," 25 Jan. 2020 Both sides quibbled as to the number of people who jumped Jones after the first shooting. Anne Ryman, azcentral, "Steven Jones headed to jail to await sentencing in fatal shooting of student on NAU campus," 17 Jan. 2020 Lindgren’s quibble with Luton and backup Tristan Gebbia – who is 7 of 12 for 66 yards and a touchdown – is consistently executing the offense. oregonlive, "Oregon State offense: What we’ve learned through 2019 non-conference schedule," 17 Sep. 2019 Some might quibble that Carlson, who acted first, deserved center stage. Jake Coyle, chicagotribune.com, "Review: ‘Bombshell’ breezes through a Fox News rebellion," 12 Dec. 2019 One can quibble around the length of time considered for renewing. Edward Lotterman, Twin Cities, "Real World Economics: Lessons seen in ill-fated water-rail plan," 9 Nov. 2019 The two have have quibbled over both policies and tactics during their six months together in the House but recently appeared to unify after President Donald Trump made racist attacks against four minority members of Congress. Sarah Elbeshbishi, USA TODAY, "'I’m looking forward to it': Pelosi minimizes tensions with Ocasio-Cortez ahead of meeting," 17 July 2019 Still, those ideas — about the betrayals inherent in love, democracy and musicals themselves — are too exciting and important to dismiss by quibbling them to death. Jessica Gelt, Los Angeles Times, "‘Soft Power’ reviews at the Public Theater veer from ‘revolutionary’ to ‘nonsense’," 16 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The four siblings supported The Settler’s objectives, but to minimize any quibbles, the company listed all of their mother’s possessions on a spreadsheet and let the children rank them from 1 to 75. Beth Decarbo, WSJ, "Downsizing Your Home Is Hard. How to Decide What’s Worth Keeping.," 22 Jan. 2020 There will be no spoilers or quibbles over plot or casting. John Archibald | Jarchibald@al.com, al, "Alabama needs Just Mercy," 17 Jan. 2020 Black metal posts and chains along the planting beds — intended mostly to keep out dogs — were replaced late in the design process by ropes and wooden posts, in part because of design quibbles from a handful of neighbors. John King, SFChronicle.com, "Washington Square Park is back — with design tweaks as timeless as North Beach itself," 2 Dec. 2019 Nothing like a real estate quibble to get the blood pumping. cleveland, "In cursed ‘Dolittle,’ they could not have done less (review)," 15 Jan. 2020 Replication studies often cause quibbles about methods, Parker says. Martin Enserink, Science | AAAS, "Analysis challenges slew of studies claiming ocean acidification alters fish behavior," 8 Jan. 2020 The five-man board voted to endorse Threadgill’s self-evaluation report as its own finding, with just a few quibbles. al, "Mobile school superintendent gets rave review from board," 12 Sep. 2019 My lone quibble: The three slices of cheddar were overkill and didn’t completely melt. Michael Mayo, sun-sentinel.com, "Review: A fresh look at ‘old’ Hard Rock restaurants Kuro, the Bol and a gilded burger at Hard Rock Cafe," 24 Oct. 2019 Leonhard quibbles with that characterization, though. Joan Niesen, SI.com, "After an Uncharacteristic 2018, Wisconsin's Staunch Defense Is Back," 26 Sep. 2019

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.

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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

Time Traveler

The first known use of quibble was in 1650

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Statistics for quibble

Last Updated

17 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Quibble.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quibble. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for quibble


How to pronounce quibble (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of quibble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to argue or complain about small, unimportant things



English Language Learners Definition of quibble (Entry 2 of 2)

: a small complaint or criticism usually about something unimportant


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

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More from Merriam-Webster on quibble

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for quibble

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with quibble

Spanish Central: Translation of quibble

Nglish: Translation of quibble for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of quibble for Arabic Speakers

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