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

  • transitive v. To apply with short poking strokes: dabbed some paint on the worn spots.
  • transitive v. To cover lightly with or as if with a moist substance.
  • transitive v. To strike or hit lightly.
  • intransitive v. To tap gently; pat.
  • n. A small amount: a dab of jelly.
  • n. A quick light pat.
  • n. Any of various flatfishes, chiefly of the genera Limanda and Hippoglossoides, related to and resembling the flounders.
  • n. Chiefly British A dab hand.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To press lightly in a repetitive motion with a soft object without rubbing.
  • v. To apply a substance in this way.
  • n. A soft tap or blow; a blow or peck from a bird's beak; an aimed blow.
  • n. A soft, playful box given in greeting or approval.
  • n. A small amount, a blob of some soft or wet substance.
  • n. Fingerprint.
  • adv. With a dab, or sudden contact.
  • n. One skilful or proficient, an expert, an adept.
  • n. A small flatfish of the family Pleuronectidae, especially Limanda limandaļ¼› a flounder.
  • n. A sand dab.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A skillful hand; a dabster; an expert.
  • n. A name given to several species of flounders, esp. to the European species, Pleuronectes limanda. The American rough dab is Hippoglossoides platessoides.
  • n. A gentle blow with the hand or some soft substance; a sudden blow or hit; a peck.
  • n. A small mass of anything soft or moist.
  • intransitive v. To strike or touch gently, as with a soft or moist substance; to tap; hence, to besmear with a dabber.
  • intransitive v. To strike by a thrust; to hit with a sudden blow or thrust.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To strike.
  • To strike gently with the hand; slap softly; pat.
  • To pat or tap gently with some soft or moist substance; specifically, in etching, china-painting, etc., to pat or rub gently with a dabber, so as to diffuse or spread evenly a groundwork of color, etc.; smear.
  • To strike with a pointed or sharp weapon; prick; stab.
  • To dibble.
  • To deceive.
  • In stone-working, to pick holes in with a pointed tool; fret.
  • To prick.
  • To peck, as birds.
  • To use a dabber.
  • To fall down loosely.
  • n. An expert; a knowing or skilful man; a dabster.
  • Clever; skilled: as, a dab hand at a thing.
  • With a dab; without hesitation; vigorously.
  • n. A quick or sudden blow.
  • n. A gentle blow or pat with the hand or some soft substance.
  • n. A dig; a peck, as from the beak of a bird.
  • n. A first or imperfect impression on the metal in making a die.
  • n. A small lump or mass of something soft or moist; a small quantity: as, a dab of mortar; a dab of butter.
  • n. A trifle; a slight, insignificant thing or person: in contempt.
  • n. plural Refuse foots of sugar.
  • n. A pinafore.
  • n. The salt-water flounder or fluke, Limanda limanda.

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

  • v. apply (usually a liquid) to a surface
  • n. a light touch or stroke
  • v. hit lightly
  • n. a small quantity of something moist or liquid


Middle English dabben, to strike.
Middle English dabbe.
Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English dabbe, from possibly imitative. (Wiktionary)
This definition is lacking an etymology or has an incomplete etymology. You can help Wiktionary by giving it a proper etymology. (Wiktionary)
Origin unknown. (Wiktionary)



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