from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To bite at gently and repeatedly.
  • transitive v. To eat with small, quick bites or in small morsels: nibble a cracker.
  • transitive v. To wear away or diminish bit by bit: "If you start compromising too early . . . they nibble you to death” ( People).
  • intransitive v. To take small or hesitant bites: fish nibbling at the bait.
  • n. A very small quantity, especially of food; a morsel.
  • n. The act or an instance of nibbling.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small, quick bite taken with the front teeth.
  • n. Small snacks such as crisps/potato chips or nuts, often eaten to accompany drinks.
  • v. To eat with small, quick bites.
  • v. To bite lightly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A small or cautious bite.
  • n. An expression of interest, often tentative, as at the beginning of a sale or negotiation process.
  • transitive v. To bite by little at a time; to seize gently with the mouth; to eat slowly or in small bits.
  • transitive v. To bite upon something gently or cautiously; to eat a little of a thing, as by taking small bits cautiously.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To eat by biting or gnawing off small bits; gnaw.
  • To bite very slightly or gently; bite off small pieces of.
  • To catch; nab.
  • To bite gently; bite off small pieces: as, fishes nibble at the bait.
  • Figuratively, to carp; make a petty attack: with at.
  • To fidget the fingers about.
  • n. The act of nibbling; a little bite; also, a small morsel or bit.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. bite off very small pieces
  • n. a small byte
  • v. bite gently
  • v. eat intermittently; take small bites of
  • n. gentle biting


Middle English nebyllen; akin to Low German nibbelen.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Perhaps from Middle Low German nibbelen ("to gnaw"). (Wiktionary)


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