tabby

1 of 3

noun (1)

tab·​by ˈta-bē How to pronounce tabby (audio)
plural tabbies
1
[tabby entry 2]
a
: a domestic cat with a striped and mottled coat
b
: a domestic cat
especially : a female cat
2
a
: a plain-woven fabric
b
archaic : a plain silk taffeta especially with moiré finish

Illustration of tabby

Illustration of tabby
  • tabby 1a

tabby

2 of 3

adjective

1
: striped and mottled with darker color : brindled
a tabby cat
2
: of, relating to, or made of tabby
a tabby vest

tabby

3 of 3

noun (2)

: a cement made of lime, sand or gravel, and oyster shells and used chiefly along the coast of Georgia and South Carolina in the 17th and 18th centuries

Examples of tabby in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Gunther Breed: Domestic shorthair/tabby Age: 1 year old The sweetest cat in the world is looking for his forever home. Teryn Jones, Kansas City Star, 5 June 2024 According to a June 3 post, 7-year-old Max, a ginger tabby, was given to a family member after his people ended up getting a new puppy. Tj MacIas, Miami Herald, 4 June 2024 What does ‘Garfield Movie’ room at Sacramento motel look like? For a limited time, Garfield the orange tabby is the chief pet officer of Motel 6, according to the release. Brianna Taylor, Sacramento Bee, 22 May 2024 Audiences get to understand Garfield’s origin story in the film, which reveals in part, that our favorite lazy orange tabby was abandoned in a box on the street by his criminal cat father Vic (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) and then adopted by his current person Jon Arbuckle and his dog Odie. Kristina Behr, Parents, 20 May 2024 But there’s a chance the Timonium location will get its own tabby. Michelle Deal-Zimmerman, Baltimore Sun, 5 Apr. 2024 Inside were the decaying remains of Balog’s beloved pet, a short-hair American tabby cat named Stewie. Caroline Petrow-Cohen, Los Angeles Times, 18 Apr. 2024 Clementine Breed: Domestic shorthair/tabby Age: 5 years old Clementine is a love-bug in search of her forever home. Teryn Jones, Kansas City Star, 10 Apr. 2024 Her partner, Kenji, is a handsome, slightly shy tabby with gorgeous white markings. The Arizona Republic, 29 Mar. 2024
Adjective
Vermont State University Castleton's 2024 graduating class had the honor of sharing their commencement celebrations over the weekend with none other than Max, a tabby cat who has become something of a local celebrity during his time at the university. Mary Walrath-Holdridge, USA TODAY, 21 May 2024 After his turn as the suave, swashbuckling tabby cat, Banderas reprised his role as another mythic outlaw hero in The Legend of Zorro (2005). Andrew Walsh, EW.com, 21 Apr. 2024 Animal: Mack, a 7-year-old, 10-pound male domestic shorthair cat with a gray-and-white tabby coat. Linda McIntosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Dec. 2023 With gentle winds from the south at 5 to 10 mph, so much for the month coming in like a lion — more like a tabby cat. David Streit, Washington Post, 29 Feb. 2024 It’s written on a cardboard box that often contains the store’s lounging tabby cat, an internet star who has a varied wardrobe, but often wears a striped T-shirt. Cathy Free, Washington Post, 10 Sep. 2023 The daughter of a piano teacher and musician, Jo taught art to immigrant children in a public school on New York’s Lower East Side, lived with her tabby cat, Arthur, and dreamed of making a living as a professional artist. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, 3 Aug. 2023 The couple had been together for about 11 years and moved to Seattle several years ago with their tabby cat, Otis, Bailey said. oregonlive, 23 June 2023 Skabenga, a tabby cat lovingly known as a feline with —at least — nine lives, calls one of South Africa’s most iconic properties, The Oyster Box, home. Sandra MacGregor, Forbes, 2 Apr. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tabby.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

French tabis, from Middle French atabis, from Medieval Latin attabi, from Arabic ʽattābī, from Al-ʽAttābīya, quarter in Baghdad

Noun (2)

Gullah tabi, ultimately from Spanish tapia adobe wall

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1638, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

Adjective

1640, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun (2)

1775, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of tabby was in 1638

Dictionary Entries Near tabby

Cite this Entry

“Tabby.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tabby. Accessed 14 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

tabby

noun
tab·​by
ˈtab-ē
plural tabbies
1
: a domestic cat with a striped and spotted coat
2
: a female cat
Etymology

Noun

from French tabis "a silk fabric with a lustrous wavy finish," from Latin attabi (same meaning), from Arabic 'attābī (same meaning), from Al-'Attābīya, name of a part of Baghdad where the cloth was made

Word Origin
A silk cloth with a striped or wavy pattern was once made in a section of the ancient city of Baghdad in what is now Iraq. The Arabic name for the cloth was 'attābī, from Al-'Attābīya, the name of the part of the city where it was made. Through Latin, the French borrowed this word for the cloth, calling it tabis. This word in turn became tabby in English. People saw a resemblance between the striped or wavy pattern of the silk and cats that had striped or spotted markings on their fur. Thus these cats came to be called tabby cats after the cloth.
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