Definition of dribble in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈdrɪb(ə)l/


1 [no object and usually with adverbial of direction] (Of a liquid) fall slowly in drops or a thin stream: rain dribbled down the window
More example sentences
  • These appear wherever water dribbled or dripped in ancient times, adding a touch of the exotic to this already mysterious and silent place.
  • The water dribbled down his chin to fall across his boyish chest.
  • Water dribbles down the paddles and soaks your T-shirt.
trickle, drip, fall in drops, drop, drizzle;
1.1 [with object and adverbial of direction] Pour (a liquid) slowly in a thin stream: he dribbled cream into his coffee
More example sentences
  • Blend together for a few seconds, then very slowly dribble the oil through the feeder tube - drop by drop to begin with.
  • She then proceeds to dribble hot liquids, smear sticky things or leave trails of crumbs - whatever seems most appropriate to the fouling of the surface in question.
  • As essential oils were dribbled onto my third eye, I felt I was participating in an ancient rite, not some modern holistic ritual.
1.2 [no object] Allow saliva to run from the mouth: his mouth was open and he was dribbling
More example sentences
  • Stripes snaked down his body, yellowy eyes stared back at both warriors, orange fur bristled in the heat, and sharp canines dribbled with saliva.
  • His mouth dribbled at the thought of the human food; though it lacked the piquancy of live prey, it had strangely appetizing flavours.
  • And, for a number of babies, this can make them a little irritable, more inclined to wake up crying at night, more liable to drool and dribble, and need more soothing and comfort.
drool, slaver, slobber, salivate, drivel, water at the mouth;
Scottish  slabber
2 [with object and adverbial of direction] (In soccer, hockey, and basketball) take (the ball) forwards past opponents with slight touches of the feet or the stick, or (in basketball) by continuous bouncing: he attempted to dribble the ball from the goal area
More example sentences
  • He had to use a hockey stick to dribble a ball round some cones.
  • That, of course, was exactly my plan, and I pushed past him, dribbling the ball down the field before scoring after many failed attempts at stealing the ball on his part.
  • Charging past him, she dribbled the ball with one hand, to get a shot in at the three-point line.


1A thin stream of liquid; a trickle: a dribble of blood
More example sentences
  • Once an emulsion has begun to form, you can increase the dribble to a thin, slow stream.
  • With thick dribbles of paint streaming down the canvases, a certain symmetry is achieved.
  • A dribble of blood trickled from the corner of his mouth as he fought to find enough force to speak.
trickle, drip, driblet, small stream, drizzle;
1.1 [mass noun] Saliva running from the mouth: there was dribble down his chin
More example sentences
  • With a stretch, a yawn and a scratch, he adjusted his position and returned to sleep, a spot of dribble suspended from his mouth.
  • I had a bit of a snooze and woke up with dribble all down my shirt.
  • Man, where are the tissues when you need them - there was dribble everywhere.
2(In soccer, hockey, and basketball) an act of taking the ball forward with repeated slight touches or bounces: a mesmerizing dribble by Daley took him through to confirm Villa’s victory
More example sentences
  • He is taking the ball to the basket aggressively and making plays off the dribble for his teammates.
  • While he makes certain rookie ball-handling mistakes, he also shows a low dribble and ball control that lets him get to the hoop against tough defense.
  • He's an awesome athlete, knows how to play above the rim, and can take any Power Forward off the dribble.



Pronunciation: /ˈdrɪb(ə)lə/
Example sentences
  • He gets you on the edge of your seat - everyone likes to see dribblers.
  • But this was not a day which encouraged the dribblers.
  • The reason you refuse to wear a necktie is because you're a dribbler.


Example sentences
  • Of course, no baby, no matter how cute and dribbly, is going to be able to turn up at the polling station with their card clutched in a tiny tight fist and be allowed to vote.
  • A later attempt to daub another quotation ended up a dribbly mess.
  • You know, if I'm like this now what it's going to be like when I'm old and dribbly?


Mid 16th century: frequentative of obsolete drib, variant of drip. The original sense was 'shoot an arrow short or wide of its target', which was also a sense of drib.

  • drip from Old English:

    Drip is Old English but the slang use of the word to refer to a ‘feeble or dull person’, dates only from the middle of the 20th century. Drip had a variant drib, source of dribble (mid 16th century). The original sense was ‘shoot an arrow short or wide of its target’, also a sense of drib, which survives in the expression dribs and drabs (early 19th century). A driblet meaning ‘a small drop or stream of liquid’ dates from the late 16th century when it meant a ‘small sum of money’. Drop is related, and so is droop (Middle English).

Words that rhyme with dribble

dibble, fribble, Gribble, kibble, nibble, quibble, scribble

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: drib¦ble

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.