noun, often attributive
\ˈtab \

Definition of tab 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a short projecting device: such as

(1) : a small flap or loop by which something may be grasped or pulled

(2) : a projection from a card used as an aid in filing

b : a small insert, addition, or remnant

c : appendage, extension especially : one of a series of small pendants forming a decorative border or edge of a garment

d : a small auxiliary airfoil hinged to a control surface (such as a trailing edge) to help stabilize an airplane in flight — see airplane illustration

2 [ partly short for 1table; partly from sense 1 ]

a : close surveillance : watch keep tabs on trends

b : a creditor's statement : bill, check

c : cost the tab for the new program

3 [ short for tabulator ] : a key on a keyboard that indents text by a preset amount

4 [ by shortening ]

a : tablet

b : tabloid


tabbed; tabbing

Definition of tab (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to furnish or ornament with tabs

2 : to single out : designate

3 : tabulate

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Synonyms for tab

Synonyms: Noun

account, bill, check, invoice, statement

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Examples of tab in a Sentence


Insert the tab into this slot to close the box. a notebook with index tabs The tab on the zipper is broken. He ran up a $200 bar tab. He put the drinks on his tab.


After you type your name in the first box, you can move to the next box by tabbing.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Keeping tabs on social media posts has been used for years by law enforcement to try to identify potential threats. Lisa Marie Pane, The Seattle Times, "Online rants by would-be shooters create dilemma for police," 30 Oct. 2018 Those keeping tabs on the New York designer will remember that this is not Wang’s first Uniqlo collaboration. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Alexander Wang Is Launching a New Uniqlo Collaboration That’s All About Underwear," 10 Oct. 2018 Just know that these toys are going fast — mommy bloggers and toy-tracking site have already begun keeping tabs on where the buzzy toys are in stock. Lindsey Murray, Good Housekeeping, "We’re Officially Calling Scruff-a-Luvs the Hottest Holiday Toy of 2018," 4 Sep. 2018 But Trump was also keeping tabs on domestic issues, including the investigations into Russian election meddling. Jill Colvin,, "Before Putin meeting, Trump blames predecessor for election meddling," 14 July 2018 The news was then flagged on the popular Instagram account Comments by Celebs, which as the name suggests, keeps tabs on celebrities in the comments section. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kylie Jenner Admits She "Got Rid Of" All Her Lip Filler," 9 July 2018 On the east side of the fairgrounds the Elburn Lions Club will offer bingo and pull-tab games inside Robinson Hall, July 20-22. Mike Danahey, Elgin Courier-News, "Kane County Fair to mark 150 years," 29 June 2018 Included in the tab is a $1.1 million home on a 15-acre lot on the shores of Lake Michigan in Oostburg in Sheboygan County. Kevin Crowe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'He'll evict you in a minute.' Landlord quietly becomes a force in Milwaukee rental business...and eviction court," 13 July 2018 Not To Sue, and when the thick envelope arrived, a ragged tab was already ripped open on the back flap due to rough handling in the mail. Liz Arnold, Longreads, "Making Peace with the Site of a Suicide," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Coyotes doubled up on Phantoms with their first of two fifth-round selections, tabbing defenseman Michael Callahan out of Youngstown with the 142nd overall selection. Richard Morin, azcentral, "Arizona Coyotes continue 'stockpiling' defense during second day of NHL draft," 23 June 2018 Cantabene tabbed junior Chris Hammerquist (12 G, 9 A) and sophomore Collin Tucker (9 G, 1 A) as the leading candidates to join junior Gray McKee (19 G, 14 A) as starters. Edward Lee,, "Review & preview: Stevenson men’s lacrosse," 21 June 2018 And yet within months of opening last summer, Superior Motors was tabbed by Food & Wine magazine as one of its 10 Restaurants of the Year. Michael Meyer, New York Times, "A Pittsburgh Area Restaurant That Trades Fussy for Fun," 7 July 2018 Eleven days ago, the Lakers were tabbed as early favorites with 7/4 odds. Jenna West,, "LeBron James Free Agency Odds List Lakers, Cavaliers as Favorites," 22 June 2018 The Colley-Matrix Rankings, long recognized by the NCAA as an outlet that crowns national champions, tabbed UCF as its champion in January. Matt Murschel,, "Former UCF coach Scott Frost doesn’t regret national championship comments," 10 May 2018 Darren Collision, the player Cleveland tabbed as the second-most dangerous, was held to three points on 1-of-7 shooting. Chris Fedor,, "Cleveland Cavaliers' typically explosive offense the surprising culprit as they face series deficit," 21 Apr. 2018 Part of that preparation was training with Roger Federer, who has often tabbed him as a hitting partner since turning pro, taking him as far as Dubai just for practice. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Mackenzie McDonald's Wimbledon run has been extra special for his former coach at UCLA," 8 July 2018 Emanuel, whose campaign declined to comment on the matter, ended up tabbing Forrest Claypool as the next schools chief. Bill Ruthhart,, "Vallas: Chicago ‘in big trouble’ under Emanuel’s ‘politically expedient’ City Hall approach," 1 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tab.' 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 tab


1607, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1872, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tab


origin unknown

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Learn More about tab

Dictionary Entries near tab



Taanith Esther





Statistics for tab

Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tab

The first known use of tab was in 1607

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More Definitions for tab



English Language Learners Definition of tab

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a small, flat piece on a box, envelope, etc., that can be put into a hole in order to hold two parts together

: a small, flat piece that sticks out from the edge of something (such as a folder) and allows you to identify and find it easily

: a small piece of metal, plastic, etc., that is pulled in order to open or close something



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

: to put a small, identifying label (called a tab) on something

: to say that (someone or something) will do something or have a particular role or purpose

: to hit the tab key on a computer or typewriter


\ˈtab \

Kids Definition of tab

1 : a short flap or tag attached to something for filing, pulling, or hanging

2 : a careful watch Let's keep tabs on the weather.


\ˈtab \

Medical Definition of tab 

: tablet

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Comments on tab

What made you want to look up tab? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


by force of circumstances

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