Definition of stab in English:

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Pronunciation: /stab/

verb (stabs, stabbing, stabbed)

[with object]
1(Of a person) thrust a knife or other pointed weapon into (someone) so as to wound or kill: he stabbed him in the stomach (as noun stabbing) the fatal stabbings of four rival gang members
More example sentences
  • An older man, probably around forty, had just killed a woman by stabbing her with a knife.
  • . Deirdre picks up the paper knife and stabs him with the weapon.
  • I don't think we should stab people and kill them.
knife, run through, skewer, spear, bayonet, gore, spike, stick, impale, transfix, pierce, prick, puncture
literary transpierce
1.1 [no object] Make a thrusting gesture or movement at something with a pointed object: she stabbed at the earth with the fork [with object]: she stabbed the air with her forefinger
More example sentences
  • He let go of my neck and brought it to his eyes, and with his other hand, stabbed wildly into the air.
  • Flashes of lightning cut the sky like daggers, staggeringly bright, stabbing down towards the earth like assassins' blades.
  • Aislinn and Christopher rose up into the air with the other flyers, swinging their blades and stabbing at the glassy robot eyes.
lunge, thrust, jab, poke, prod, dig
1.2 [no object] (stab into/through) (Of a sharp or pointed object) violently pierce: a sharp end of wicker stabbed into his sole
More example sentences
  • A sharp pinprick or pain stabbed through my left hand, and I jumped, looking down to see the largest mosquito in the world.
  • A sharp pain stabbed through Nukurren's ruined eye.
  • A blade of light stabbed through the curtains, piercing Jeff Drake's dream.
1.3 [no object] (stab at) (Of a pain or painful thing) cause a sudden sharp sensation: (as adjective stabbing) I felt a stabbing pain in my chest
More example sentences
  • Pain stabbed at her from every direction, and she struggled to maintain her stony face.
  • Her heart stabbed with pain as she thought of her father and she turned her attention to the second painting.
  • He paused and straightened up, grimacing at the sharp pain stabbing at his lower back.


1A thrust with a knife or other pointed weapon: [as modifier]: multiple stab wounds
More example sentences
  • A knife stab laceration or glass injury to the hand would make exploration of the wound mandatory.
  • He survived life threatening stab injuries when knifed in his cell by a prisoner who had been brought overnight for a family visit that day.
  • They fell into a steady pattern of parries, stabs, and slashes.
1.1A wound made by the thrust of a knife or other pointed weapon: she had a deep stab in the back
More example sentences
  • Xin was shocked to find that he could not get up and noticed the deep stab from the Elantas sword in his thigh for the first time.
  • There were scars from burns, from stabs, slashes, and from his own magic.
  • Chopper's toughness shines out while he receives multiple stabs from his best friend in prison early on in the film.
knife wound, puncture, incision, prick, cut, perforation
1.2A thrusting movement with a finger or other pointed object: impatient stabs of his finger
More example sentences
  • Well, it was like stabs with a finger into Cedric's deltoid muscle.
  • I overestimated my stab and completely turned over my salad.
  • He tucked it between his ear and shoulder and dialed with quick, efficient stabs of his fingertip.
1.3A sudden sharp feeling or pain: she felt a stab of jealousy
More example sentences
  • But when he remembered of Jeannie and Neal being engaged he felt a sharp stab of pain and jealousy somewhere deep inside himself.
  • His head throbbed with sharp stabs of pain, he couldn't seem to stop shaking and his breath came in long, shuddering wheezes.
  • I went to reach for a second mug, figuring that Aidan might appreciate some coffee as well, when my foot gave a sudden sharp stab of pain.
twinge, pang, throb, spasm, cramp, dart, prick, flash, thrill
1.4(In popular music) a staccato interjected phrase, typically by horns or a keyboard: the fuzz guitar riff is replaced by some slinky brass stabs
More example sentences
  • We build drums, bass, atmospheres and do a lot of work with stabs and massive reverb/delays.
  • Bastian puts a contemporary spin on classic soul with beat and horn stabs that punctuate her retro vocal.
  • In nine tutorials we lead you through the music-making process, ending with the more detailed layers of musical production (writing lead lines, adding stabs and other effects).
2 (stab at) informal An attempt to do (something): Meredith made a feeble stab at joining in
More example sentences
  • You may take a stab at guessing what happens, and you may be close, but probably a little off.
  • Unfortunately that goal was missed by a mere 75 minutes thanks to the elements conspiring against her, but undeterred she is pressing on with another stab at it in November.
  • Daredevil entrepreneur Richard Branson will get another stab at an unusual flight on Saturday, when a replica of the first manned glider to take to the air sets off down a Yorkshire dale.
attempt, try, effort, endeavor;
informal go, shot, crack, bash, whack
formal essay



a stab in the back

A treacherous act or statement.
Example sentences
  • Outsourcing jobs overseas is a stab in the back to all the workers who have made this country what it is.
  • But the party has no tradition of back-stabbing its leaders: on the contrary, it has been very forbearing of them, even when a stab in the back might have been in everyone's interest.
  • They knew only that it was a rich Spartan colony; capturing it would be a stab in the back of their enemy, bringing the long Peloponnesian War to a quick, triumphal end.

stab someone in the back

Betray someone.
Example sentences
  • There are some people whom I regarded as friends, but they stabbed me in the back; there are those that I injured by mistake, but they were actually good people in retrospect.
  • The district council has stabbed us in the back.
  • Given the opportunity, the powerful will exploit the weak, and the person you love might betray you, stabbing you in the back.
betray, be disloyal to, be unfaithful to, desert, break one's promise to, double-cross, break faith with, sell out, play false, inform on/against
informal tell on, sell down the river, squeal on, rat out, finger

a stab in the dark

see dark.



Pronunciation: /ˈstabər/
Example sentences
  • Both the suspected stabber and victim of the attack are from Laois and were thought to have been at a nightclub in the town.
  • They contended that the scientific evidence pointed to Miller, not Rahman, as the stabber - evidence that should have precluded capital punishment.
  • You can only find that he did the act of murder if he was himself the stabber or took part in what he knew at the time it was happening was a knife attack


Late Middle English: of unknown origin.

Words that rhyme with stab

blab, cab, confab, crab, Crabbe, dab, drab, fab, flab, gab, grab, jab, kebab, lab, nab, scab, slab, smash-and-grab, tab

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: stab

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