Definition of tabby in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtabē/

noun (plural tabbies)

1 (also tabby cat) A cat whose fur is mottled or streaked with dark stripes.
Example sentences
  • There are tabbies and toms in white, black, grey and ginger.
  • On my way home I was accosted by a mewing tabby and white shorthair cat that proceeded to follow me home.
  • A grey tabby cat with white legs and wearing a red collar with a bell was found in the Hawthorn area of the town over the New Year period.
1.1US informal Any domestic cat.
Example sentences
  • Even the most beloved mutt or tabby is deemed virtually worthless: rescued from an animal shelter for a nominal fee, they can be ‘replaced’ at the same expense.
  • Cats and dogs run the risk of falling victim to accidents just as much as humans do, and when an operation is required, your adorable little tabby might need an urgent blood transfusion.
  • Unfortunately, the odds are less than favourable for this overgrown tabby.
2A fabric with a watered pattern, typically silk.
Example sentences
  • Some of these samples are dated to the Han times; they range from lightweight tabby and gauze, some plain and some printed, to medium-textured fabrics such as damask.
4A type of concrete made of lime, shells, gravel, and stones that dries very hard.
Early 19th century (originally tabby work): perhaps a different word, or from a resemblance in color to that of a tabby cat


(Of a cat) gray or brownish in color and streaked with dark stripes.
Example sentences
  • A small, tabby kitten walked out, sniffing the air.
  • Waiting for her at the gate was the neighbour's tabby tomcat who bore the unoriginal name of Tiger.
  • He then looked over towards the tabby kitten and touched it.


Late 16th century (denoting a kind of silk taffeta, originally striped, later with a watered finish: sense 2 of the noun): from French tabis, based on Arabic al-῾Attābiyya, the name of the quarter of Baghdad where tabby was manufactured.

  • A striped tabby cat is said to get its name from a kind of silk which was originally striped, although later tabby was used for silk with a watered finish. The word goes back to the name of the quarter of Baghdad where the material was manufactured, al-Attābiyya.

Words that rhyme with tabby

abbey, cabby, crabby, flabby, gabby, grabby, Rabbie, scabby, shabby, yabby

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: tab·by

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