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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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 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 Even with those four, there’s something to quibble about with regard to their 2020 showings. Tony Blengino, Forbes, 10 Nov. 2021 The Chicago Blackhawks had their test run for Wednesday’s season opener on the road against the Colorado Avalanche, and few could quibble with the results: A 5-1 win over the Minnesota Wild in the preseason finale Saturday at the United Center. Phil Thompson, chicagotribune.com, 10 Oct. 2021 There were things to quibble over, particularly the insistence on neutral-site games to appease bowls rather than play more on campus, but there was something for every conference to view as a win. John Talty | Jtalty@al.com, al, 23 Sep. 2021 Some experts quibble with that exact estimate, but the point remains that people who contract Delta have lots more virus in their noses and throats, and are in turn emitting lots more virus. Andrew Joseph, STAT, 11 Sep. 2021 Resist the urge to quibble about membership or late fees—most of these libraries are administered by part-time or volunteer workers who do their work for the love of the community. Lisa Bubert, Better Homes & Gardens, 2 Sep. 2021 Now, could a good defense lawyer come in and quibble with this or try to poke holes in it? Jennifer Hauser, Tara John And Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, 8 Aug. 2021 Whenever there’s a dispute of this nature, the best solution isn’t to quibble over whose data is more reliable, but rather to take superior measurements that yield an unambiguous answer. Ethan Siegel, Forbes, 22 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun My one quibble with the ports is the soft, silicone (?) port covers. Brad Moon, Forbes, 16 Oct. 2021 My quibble is from the other direction: that the impact of the play’s argument about police violence against young black men, whatever its statistical prevalence, is undercut rather than enhanced by its cartoonish conception of Ossifer. Jesse Green, New York Times, 22 Aug. 2021 Though one or two of the 26 essays feels out of sync with either religion or spirituality, that’s a small quibble. Joan Taylor, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 July 2021 This is a quibble with a staging that, in general precisely, aligns with an elegant yet savage work. New York Times, 12 July 2021 His tussle with Yang, who has sought to present himself as the better option to combat a spike in violent crime, was the debate's sharpest exchange, but hinged on a quibble over an endorsement from a police union, the Captains Endowment Association. Gregory Krieg, CNN, 17 June 2021 The only minor quibble came from fusspots like me who noted that Ida B. Wells Drive intersects with South Wells Street (named for William Wells, an Army captain killed in the Battle of Fort Dearborn), which could be confusing. Eric Zorn, chicagotribune.com, 15 June 2021 That political opposition to her work, more so than any quibble with her qualifications, provides a better explanation for the decision to deny Hannah-Jones tenure. Nicole Hemmer, CNN, 20 May 2021 My one quibble are the roasted sweet potatoes, which would be better without what tastes like granola sprinkled over them. Washington Post, 30 Apr. 2021

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

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The first known use of quibble was in 1650

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Last Updated

30 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Quibble.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quibble. Accessed 1 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for quibble



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

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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