Definitions

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

  • adj. Quick, light, or agile in movement or action; deft: nimble fingers. See Synonyms at dexterous.
  • adj. Quick, clever, and acute in devising or understanding: nimble wits.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Quick and light in movement or action.
  • adj. Quick-witted and alert.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Light and quick in motion; moving with ease and celerity; lively; swift.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Light and quick in motion; active; moving with ease and celerity; marked by ease and rapidity of motion; lively; swift.
  • Keen; sharp.
  • Quick to apprehend; apprehensive; acute; penetrating.
  • Synonyms Light, brisk, expeditious, speedy, spry; Nimble, Agile. The last two words express lightness and quickness in motion, the former being more suggestive of the use of the feet, the latter of that of the whole lower limbs.
  • Fresh or strong: applied to tanliquor.

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

  • adj. moving quickly and lightly
  • adj. mentally quick

Etymologies

Middle English nemel, from Old English nǣmel, quick to seize and numol, quick at learning; see nem- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English nymel, nemel ("capable"), merger of Old English nǣmel ("receptive, quick to grasp") and Old English numol ("able to take, capable of holding"), both from niman ("to take") + -el, -ol (associative suffix). Compare German nehmen Gothic 𐌽𐌹𐌼𐌰𐌽 (niman), Old Norse nema ("to take"). More at nim. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • We must remain nimble, flexible and prepared to compete as a region.

    The Future of the Greater Toronto Area

  • The suspension is pillow-soft, and a front-wheel-drive car approaching 2 tons can't be called nimble, but the chassis felt tight and Fusion was sure-footed.

    Wired Top Stories

  • Hermod, called the nimble, an older brother of Baldur, said he would go.

    Classic Myths

  • Why do we not always build our towns, when we can, on heights, in what Shakespeare calls nimble and sweet air?

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 18, No. 105, July 1866

  • It will be observed that the bear, after having pursued me for a few yards, turned and went on his way, but had I not been nimble -- in other words, had I been completely invested by the bear and thrown down -- he might, as the natives would phrase it, have made my wife a widow.

    Gold, Sport, and Coffee Planting in Mysore

  • By my soul, I know not what Tom Price calls nimble men; but I could have walked as far on foot in the time.

    Sir Ludar A Story of the Days of the Great Queen Bess

  • Last week, Christine Lagarde said the UK needed to be "nimble" - an indication that while the IMF backs George Osborne's Plan A today, the fiscal consolidation may need tweeking if the global economic climate worsens.

    The Guardian World News

  • Smaller companies are able to be more nimble, that is clearly the case.

    BusinessWeek.com --

  • Three weeks he lay upon that narrow white bed, and learned to face the battalion of eyes from the other narrow beds around him; learned to distinguish the quiet sounds of the marble lined room from the rumble of the unknown city without; and when the nimble was the loudest his heart ached with the thought of the alley and all the horrible sights and sounds that seemed written in letters of fire across his spirit.

    Lo, Michael!

  • The BOE would have to be "nimble" in responding to changes in the economic outlook, it added.

    IMF Endorses U.K. Fiscal Plan

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