noun, often attributive
\ ˈtab How to pronounce tab (audio) \

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

Managers now have hundreds, if not thousands, of scrappy competitors to keep tabs on. Carol Ryan, WSJ, "New Consumer CEOs Are Getting Tougher, Shorter Jobs," 15 Feb. 2019 Being royalty and all, Will and Harry had private security guards who lived on the perimeter of the school's grounds and kept tabs on the young princes. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Prince Harry Lost His GPS Tracker as a Kid, Triggering a High Security Alert," 27 Jan. 2019 For both typical and atypical antipsychotics, your prescriber will want to keep tabs on how effectively the drug is managing your symptoms, both in the beginning and throughout treatment. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "9 Things You Should Know About Taking Antipsychotic Drugs," 7 Dec. 2018 The Quiet Skies program mainly seems to be an extension of that and of another program in which air marshals keep tabs on airline passengers designated as potential dangers by the FBI. John Mueller, Vox, "Airline terrorist attacks are extremely rare. It’s one reason TSA’s Quiet Skies program is a waste of money.," 4 Aug. 2018 Caleb’s mom, Sharon, kept tabs at home in their hometown of Hilliard, Ohio – a suburb of Columbus. Tod Leonard,, "From riots in Haiti to golf in San Diego: A teen's harrowing trip to play in Junior World," 10 July 2018 Zajko, always keeping tabs, said of the chain pickerel. Jason Nark,, "Roxborough man wants to catch Pennsylvania's biggest fish, anywhere, anytime," 8 July 2018 Katabi said doctors might use the technology to keep tabs on someone with Parkinson’s disease by watching for changes in gait that might indicate a looming problem. Kate Baggaley /, NBC News, "Smart technology sees through walls to track and identify people," 8 July 2018 The report doesn't name a specific player that Stoke are keeping tabs on from Liverpool's youthful squad, but claims on social media have suggested that Lazar Marković, Ben Woodburn or Sheyi Ojo could be used to sweeten a deal from Shaqiri., "Liverpool's Chase for World Cup Star Hit Complication With Selling Club Set to Demand Loan Signing," 7 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The American Junior Golf Association named the Mobilian as its Girls' Player of the Year and Golf Digest tabbed her its Girls' Junior Golfer of the Year in 1984. Mark Inabinett,, "7 questions with golfer Susie Redman," 29 Dec. 2017 The Patriots’ decision to tab Georgia guard/tackle Isaiah Wynn and running back Sony Michel signals the opening of another pipeline for Bill Belichick, with old Nick Saban lieutenant Kirby Smart in charge in Athens. Albert Breer,, "Ten Things I've Heard Ahead of NFL Draft Rounds 2-3," 27 Apr. 2018 News that Auburn tabbed Greene, who held the same position at Buffalo, to succeed outgoing AD Jay Jacobs spread on Wednesday night. Tom Green,, "Auburn officially hires Allen Greene as new athletics director," 18 Jan. 2018 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

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

22 Feb 2019

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
US : 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
US, informal : 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 How to pronounce tab (audio) \

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 How to pronounce tab (audio) \

Medical Definition of tab

: tablet

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More from Merriam-Webster on tab

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tab

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tab

Spanish Central: Translation of tab

Nglish: Translation of tab for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tab for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about tab

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).


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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