Definition of quibble in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkwibəl/


1A slight objection or criticism: the only quibble about this book is the price
More example sentences
  • However, this is a slight quibble in what is an otherwise fine book.
  • Other than the political quibbles, London critics were mostly rapturous about this modern-dress revival.
  • Sadly, one of the major parties has slight quibbles with the details of the agreement.
criticism, objection, complaint, protest, argument, exception, grumble, grouse, cavil
informal beef, gripe, moan
2 archaic A play on words; a pun.


[no object]
Argue or raise objections about a trivial matter: they are always quibbling about the amount they are prepared to pay
More example sentences
  • Look, we're not quibbling or splitting hairs about this agreement.
  • He will have made enemies of all his former managers, but few quibbled with Thompson's logic when he parted company with each of them.
  • He said: ‘We are not quibbling at the actual amount of increase or at the basic philosophy of a national minimum wage.’
object to, find fault with, complain about, cavil at;
split hairs about;
criticize, query, fault, pick holes in
informal nitpick
archaic pettifog



Pronunciation: /ˈkwib(ə)lər/
Example sentences
  • But I think it has far greater potential to damage the opposition, who, by engaging in such arguments, make themselves look like pettifogging quibblers out to injure the president by any means necessary.
  • A gaggle of quibblers complain that chickens do fly, albeit short distances.
  • How wider access might be achieved is another matter, and one that will be closely examined by the quibblers after Wade takes up his appointment in October.


Example sentences
  • More quibblingly, I wish that they might have begun the passages from Calvin on any page other than 666; given their appreciation of the Reform tradition, however, this is almost certainly the fault of some Arminian typesetter.
  • It might be argued, but rather quibblingly, that such a response is itself an expression of inherent genotypic possibilities.
  • Those who are familiar with both the details and the thrust of his thought have a responsibility to explain it to interested newcomers as best we can, even as we also pursue high level or quibblingly technical debates among ourselves.


Early 17th century (in the sense 'play on words, pun'): diminutive of obsolete quib 'a petty objection', probably from Latin quibus, dative and ablative plural of qui, quae, quod 'who, what, which', frequently used in legal documents and so associated with subtle distinctions or verbal niceties.

  • A quibble was originally a pun or play on words. It probably comes from Latin quibus, meaning ‘for which’ or ‘for whom’, a word that often appeared in legal documents and so was associated with subtle distinctions or verbal niceties. The idea of a pun led to that of basing an argument on some likeness or difference between words or their meanings, and from this arose the notion of a petty objection or a trivial point of criticism.

Words that rhyme with quibble

dibble, dribble, fribble, Gribble, kibble, nibble, scribble

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: quib·ble

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