Definition of tabby in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtabi/

noun (plural tabbies)

1 (also tabby cat) A grey or brownish cat 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.
2 [mass noun] A 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.
3 [mass noun] A plain weave.
4 [mass noun] A type of concrete made of lime, shells, gravel, and stones, which dries very hard.
Early 19th century (originally tabby work): perhaps a different word, or from a resemblance in colour to that of a tabby cat
5A small moth with dark wavy markings on the forewings.
  • Genus Aglossa (family Pyralidae), often found in barns and warehouses, and genus Epizeuxis (family Noctuidae).


(Of a cat) grey or brownish in colour and streaked with dark stripes: a young tabby tomcat
More 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: see 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

Line breaks: tabby

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