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

Click on the membership tab for new member options. Christina Hyder, Howard County Times, "Keeping cool at local pools on the hot days of summer [North Laurel/Savage]," 21 June 2018 Five large beer and liquor companies eventually agreed to pick up most of the $100 million tab for the 10-year-long randomized trial. Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times, "It Was Supposed to Be an Unbiased Study of Drinking. They Wanted to Call It ‘Cheers.’," 18 June 2018 The nation's overall health-care costs are sure to rise, including society's tab for Medicare. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan is aging faster than the rest of the U.S. – here's why," 8 June 2018 The county also has school, fire, parks and library impact fees, bringing the total impact-fee tab for a new home that is 1,500 to 2,499 square feet to $10,727 in north and central Lake and $12,933 in south Lake. Jerry Fallstrom,, "After builders sound concerns, Lake delays hiking transportation impact fees in north, central areas of county," 5 June 2018 The bar tab for the night will be donated to the Ellicott City Parntership. Chris Kaltenbach,, "Restaurant and bar fundraisers for Ellicott City flood victims," 30 May 2018 In Sorkin’s case, he would be stuck with a $3 million tab for goods his family firm trucked to Garces’ restaurants. Michael Klein,, "Chef Jose Garces faces a crucial court date," 18 May 2018 For the county, the tab for cleaning up the mess is adding up. Grace Schneider, The Courier-Journal, "An Indiana county is paying a steep price for burying toxic coal ash," 18 May 2018 Don’t hold out hope, don’t check in on her, don’t keep tabs. Grace Gavilanes,, "Real People Whose Exes Moved on Really Quickly Share Their Side of the Story," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

With their first pick on Saturday, the Coyotes tabbed left-handed defenseman Kevin Bahl with the 55th overall selection. Richard Morin, azcentral, "Arizona Coyotes continue 'stockpiling' defense during second day of NHL draft," 23 June 2018 Time will tell if tabbing Kulboka and Okobo, who come from Italy’s and France’s top leagues, respectively, for pre-draft workouts will end in either suiting up for the Pacers this summer. Jordan Guskey, Indianapolis Star, "Indiana Pacers 2018 NBA Draft could include international flavor," 20 June 2018 Brondello has been impressed by how Gulich has not been reticent about communicating with veteran players in Phoenix, which has been tabbed one of the favorites to win a WNBA title. Andrew Greif,, "Marie Gulich, former Oregon State star, adjusting quickly in WNBA," 11 May 2018 Earnhardt missed the second half of that season with a concussion and Bowman was tabbed to fill in for 10 of those races. Jenna Fryer, Houston Chronicle, "Alex Bowman puts No. 88 on the pole at Daytona," 11 Feb. 2018 Sunday’s game here reverted to a 1 p.m. start and the network tabbed the Dodgers-Angels game in Anaheim, instead. David Waldstein, New York Times, "The Yankees Went to Extra Innings, but Still Knocked Off Early," 8 July 2018 The Nantucket Hotel & Resort in Nantucket, Mass., was tabbed best hotel in the U.S. Phil Marty,, "A wild look at Indonesia, a lauded hotel at a winning price and more," 2 July 2018 Joe Mojto, who owned a farm in Sullivan, was tabbed to play the bodyguard of Cronyn's political boss character in a party scene after dropping off a couple of hitchhikers who were going to a casting call. Chris Foran, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "When Hollywood went looking for old Chicago and found it (sort of) in Milwaukee," 19 June 2018 Owens was tabbed for three Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams in his first seven seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. Mark Inabinett,, "How does Julio Jones compare with the 2 new Hall of Fame receivers?," 5 Feb. 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

6 Sep 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).


alleviating pain or harshness

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