from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A small firecracker.
  • noun A broken firecracker that burns but does not explode.
  • noun A brief satirical or witty writing or speech, such as a lampoon.
  • noun A short, sometimes humorous piece in a newspaper or magazine, usually used as a filler.
  • noun Football A squib kick.
  • intransitive verb To write or utter squibs.
  • intransitive verb To write or utter squibs against; lampoon.
  • intransitive verb Football To kick (the ball) low on a kickoff so that it bounces along the ground.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To move swiftly and irregularly.
  • To make a slight, sharp report, like that of an exploding squib.
  • To resort to the use of squibs, or petty lampoons.
  • To throw (in or out) suddenly; explode.
  • To attack in squibs; lampoon.
  • noun A ball or tube filled with gunpowder, sent or fired swiftly through the air or along the ground, exploding somewhat like a rocket.
  • noun A reed, rush, quill, or roll of paper filled with a priming of gunpowder; a tube of some kind used to set off a charge of gunpowder, as at the bottom of a drill-hole. Also called mote, train, and match.
  • noun A fire-cracker, especially one broken in the middle so that when it is fired the charge explodes without a loud report.
  • noun A petty lampoon; a short satirical writing or sketch holding up a person or thing to ridicule.
  • noun One who writes lampoons or squibs; a petty satirist; a paltry, trifling fellow.
  • noun A kind of cheap taffy, made of treacle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb colloq. To throw squibs; to utter sarcastic or severe reflections; to contend in petty dispute.
  • noun A little pipe, or hollow cylinder of paper, filled with powder or combustible matter, to be thrown into the air while burning, so as to burst there with a crack.
  • noun (Mining) A kind of slow match or safety fuse.
  • noun A sarcastic speech or publication; a petty lampoon; a brief, witty essay.
  • noun obsolete A writer of lampoons.
  • noun obsolete A paltry fellow.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun military A small firework that is intended to spew sparks rather than explode.
  • noun A similar device used to ignite an explosive or launch a rocket, etc.
  • noun US Any small firecracker sold to the general public. Usually available in special clusters designed to explode in series after a single master fuze is lit.
  • noun automotive The heating element used to set off the sodium azide pellets in a vehicle's airbag.
  • noun A small explosive used to replicate a bullet hitting a surface.
  • noun dated A short piece of witty writing; a lampoon.
  • noun law In a legal casebook, a short summary of a legal action placed between more extensively quoted cases.
  • noun linguistics A short article, often published in journals, that introduces empirical data problematic to linguistic theory or discusses an overlooked theoretical problem. In contrast to a typical linguistic article, a squib need not answer the questions that it poses.
  • noun archaic An unimportant, paltry, or mean-spirited person.
  • noun slang A sketched concept or visual solution, usually very quick and not too detailed. A word most commonly used within the Graphic Design industry.
  • verb To make a sound such as a small explosion.
  • verb colloquial, dated To throw squibs; to utter sarcastic or severe reflections; to contend in petty dispute.
  • verb this sense?) (slang) To draw a concept or layout to visually explain an idea ("let me squib something to show you what I mean").

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

  • noun firework consisting of a tube filled with powder (as a broken firecracker) that burns with a fizzing noise


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

[Probably imitative.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Possibly imitative of a small explosion.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word squib.


  • Here's a squib from the publisher's page about the book.

    Books 2007

  • No 800-word opinion squib is going to substitute for several years of intensive training in a subject; nuance is inevitably going to get lost.

    Heterodoxy Redux 2007

  • Here's a squib from the publisher's page about the book.

    The Future Isn't Through With You Yet 2005

  • If last week's little demonstration by Iran -- calling for the elimination of Israel -- didn't convince you that the people who run that country are just plain nuts, perhaps this little squib from the National Post will help.

    November 2005 2005

  • Here's a squib from the publisher's page about the book.

    November 2005 2005

  • Taped to the squib is a small plastic bag of fake blood.

    Melons Bursting in Air Rachel Emma Silverman 2011

  • I also wrote a thousand word squib/essay about Sant Jordi, and a noi (Catlaan for "boy") I met my first year in Spain, that was supposed to be a max of 500 words.

    Breakfast in Bed desayunoencama 2004

  • It was madness to cover public buildings with open oil lamps and leave them to be looked after by natives -- this huge Taj hotel, dry as tinder outside, a complexity of dry wooden jalousies and balconies, was covered with these lights and floating flags -- how it didn't go off like a squib was a miracle.

    From Edinburgh to India & Burmah 1900

  • I agree the squib was the wrong call, but to play devil's advocate, Gerald Jones had made a bunch of big returns for Tennessee that night.

    unknown title 2008

  • While setting up a discussion, John McLaughlin quoted Naomi Klein's "squib" on a new Obama book titled The Mendacity of Hope, by Roger D. Hodge, the former editor-in-chief of Harper's magazine:

    Joseph A. Palermo: The McLaughlin Group: It's the "Professional Left's" Fault Joseph A. Palermo 2010


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  • A small explosive device which when detonated will simulate the effect of a bullet/puncture wound or small explosion.

    July 29, 2008

  • No, a squib is a non-magical person of magical parentage, just like a witch or a wizard is a magical offspring born to non-magical parents, a.k.a. Muggles :P

    July 29, 2008