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

Within the last decade, however, improving satellite collar technology has permitted researchers to keep tabs on wolves from space. Ben Goldfarb, National Geographic, "The secret lives of fish-eating, beaver-ambushing wolves of Minnesota," 21 June 2019 Vincent had left Spanish Fort for an assistant coach position with South Alabama but kept tabs on Montgomery and even helped him with his move to East Mississippi Community College. Evan Dudley,, "How UAB’s connection to Spanish Fort helps recruiting," 19 June 2019 Flow has traditionally been more focused on business processes, such as keeping tabs on inventory. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft adds AI capabilities to PowerApps and Flow to automate business tasks," 10 June 2019 Pension trustees will also force investment committees to keep closer tabs on how liquid their portfolio is, expects Ryan Hughes of AJ Bell, an investment platform. The Economist, "Neil Woodford, star fund-manager, comes a cropper," 6 June 2019 Since the start of the journey, Javed, who was living in England, had been keeping tabs on his younger brother’s progress. Matthew Wolfe, Harper's magazine, "Without a Trace," 10 Feb. 2019 Apple Card and Apple TV Plus are entirely absent at this point, while a third, Apple Arcade, only has a preview tab in the App Store (which rather annoyingly bumps the updates tab off into a submenu in the App Store app). Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "iOS 13 hands-on: dark mode, Apple Maps, Reminders, and more," 24 June 2019 Police went to the restaurant and spoke to an employee who provided a bar tab for the suspect., "Three youngsters inside vehicles involved in road rage incident: Middleburg Heights Police Blotter," 23 June 2019 Google was accused by the Trump administration of hiding conservative thought on its popular search engine; Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, which keeps a running tab on the president’s false or misleading statements. Tom Saler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Tom Saler: Anti-trust action against Big Tech recalls moves against Rockefeller, Carnegie a century ago," 21 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Texas junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger has been tabbed the Big 12 preseason offensive player of the year, with Oklahoma junior linebacker Kenneth Murray taking the defensive honor. Mark Heim |,, "Big 12 names former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts newcomer of the year," 10 July 2019 The San Diego Padres tabbed Cypress Ranch catcher Jared Alvarez-Lopez in the 17th round of the 2019 MLB First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday. Arianna Vedia, Houston Chronicle, "Cypress Ranch product Jared Alvarez-Lopez drafted by Padres," 5 June 2019 But he’s already been tabbed as a Pac-12 Conference football prospect., "Miles Williams, 2022 Clackamas athlete, receives Oregon State Beavers offer," 20 June 2019 Welsh has been tabbed to replace Craig Smith pending approval by Orange County Public Schools. J.c. Carnahan,, "West Orange picks Jay Welsh as new baseball head coach," 20 June 2019 In 1972, Corvallis High/University of Oregon infielder Dave Roberts was tabbed No. 1 by the San Diego Padres., "Baltimore Orioles fans, get to know Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, first pick of 2019 MLB draft," 3 June 2019 Back in 1980, the squad was tabbed as the best team in league history during the NBA’s 35th-anniversary celebration. Keith Pompey,, "Former Sixers great Hal Greer dies," 16 Apr. 2018 Washington also tabbed forward Aaron White in the second round. Benjamin Standig,, "Wizards select Oregon swingman Troy Brown Jr. with 15th overall pick in NBA draft," 21 June 2018 Cedric Williams was named Patriot League Field Athlete of the Week, while John Barber was tabbed Patriot League Rookie of the Week., "Digest (April) 10: Goalie Philipp Grubauer gets starting assignment from Capitals," 10 Apr. 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

12 Jul 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).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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