Definitions

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

  • intransitive v. To evade the truth or importance of an issue by raising trivial distinctions and objections.
  • intransitive v. To find fault or criticize for petty reasons; cavil.
  • n. A petty distinction or an irrelevant objection.
  • n. Archaic A pun.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A trivial or minor complaint, objection or argument.
  • v. To complain or argue in a trivial or petty manner.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A shift or turn from the point in question; a trifling or evasive distinction; an evasion; a cavil.
  • n. A pun; a low conceit.
  • intransitive v. To evade the point in question by artifice, play upon words, caviling, or by raising any insignificant or impertinent question or point; to trifle in argument or discourse; to equivocate.
  • intransitive v. To pun; to practice punning.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To trifle in argument or discourse; evade the point in question, or the plain truth, by artifice, play upon words, or any conceit; prevaricate.
  • To pun.
  • n. A start or turn from the point in question, or from plain truth; an evasion; a prevarication.
  • n. A pun; a trivial conceit.

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

  • v. evade the truth of a point or question by raising irrelevant objections
  • v. argue over petty things
  • n. an evasion of the point of an argument by raising irrelevant distinctions or objections

Etymologies

Probably diminutive of obsolete quib, equivocation, perhaps from Latin quibus, dative and ablative pl. of quī, who, what (from its frequent use in legal documents); see kwo- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

Comments

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  • ...the clerk drove his old-time quibble slowly and noisily down the street...

    - P.K. Dick, Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said.

    March 24, 2012

  • denounced the willingness of members to quibble about fees and diagnosis

    September 14, 2010

  • Very useful if you're where I come from.

    July 17, 2009

  • Plath citations: see note at ruck.

    April 14, 2008

  • Isn't quibble a lovely little word?

    August 27, 2007