1 of 2


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.

Example Sentences

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
The Astros won't quibble with eight players on the ESPN top 100. Michael Shapiro, Chron, 23 Mar. 2023 After quibbling briefly with Barrett over the definition of a user, Schnapper acknowledged that the act of liking or retweeting is an act of content creation that should expose the person liking or retweeting to potential liability. Tierney Sneed, CNN, 21 Feb. 2023 Although Washington might quibble with the characterization, the security pacts with Japan and South Korea have become increasingly important as China has made clear its intent to challenge the United States’ global primacy economically and militarily. Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Washington Post, 24 Apr. 2023 While economists may quibble about who or what is at fault for our odd economic reality -- inflation coupled with healthy jobs reports -- Americans are feeling the pinch on their pocketbooks. Jill Filipovic, CNN, 30 Aug. 2022 Mock draft purists may quibble with who the Cowboys took and the round those selections were made. Dallas News, 29 Apr. 2022 Even progressive senators did not quibble. Dan Mclaughlin, National Review, 23 Mar. 2022 Now is not the time to quibble. Dallas News, 11 July 2022 Philadelphia coach Nick Sirianni didn’t quibble about the call after the game. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, 13 Feb. 2023
What to drink: One small quibble: More cocktails, please! Kara Baskin, BostonGlobe.com, 17 May 2023 The non-locking diopter is a tad too loose, and the finish is a little slick—both minor quibbles. Dave Hurteau, Field & Stream, 10 May 2023 But this quibble doesn’t detract from the main idea that drives Pathogenesis. Colin Dickey, The New Republic, 3 May 2023 But these quibbles are mere blips compared to the attractions that await visitors: the colonial charm of the Old City, a barbacoa breakfast in the historic Italian Market, glittering mosaics on South Street and the fine restaurants in Fishtown. Ingrid K. Williams, New York Times, 27 Apr. 2023 While some appreciate the access that Appointment Trader allows, others have some quibbles with the site. Tori Latham, Robb Report, 13 Apr. 2023 These quibbles mean little, as the Air is wrapped in a visual package that hardly looks like an American car. Tribune News Service, Dallas News, 25 Mar. 2023 That’s a small quibble, however. Zack Budryk, Washington Post, 4 Apr. 2023 Ultimately, of course, this is a minor quibble. Andy Meek, BGR, 30 Nov. 2021 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 30 May. 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

More from Merriam-Webster on quibble

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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