Word of the day – dibble

Dibble, verb = to drink like a duck, lifting up the head after each sip.

This is a definition of this word that I heard on the radio today. Officer Dibble in Top Cat was also mentioned.

However in my English dictionary a dibble is defined as:

  1. a small hand tool used to make holes in the ground for planing bulbs and seeds
  2. to make a hole with such a tool
  3. to plant with such a tool, which is also known as a dibber.

It first appeared in writing during the 15th century and is of obscure origin. There’s nothing about ducks there, but the drinking like a duck meaning does appear in lists of obscure words like this one.

This entry was posted in English, Language.

6 Responses to Word of the day – dibble

  1. TJ says:

    I think the word, somehow, is derived from a sound.

  2. Yenlit says:

    I’ve always known it as a dibber rather than a dibble or tyllwr in Welsh but I’ve never heard of the duck related definition before?

  3. Yenlit says:

    I think the verb dibble has come from the noun and once meant any feeding animal and not just ducks drinking. William Cowper (1700s) “a skipping deer with pointed hoof dibbling the glebe”.

  4. D.Jay says:

    I could have sworn the word for what ducks do was “dabble” or “dab”. And I wonder if the derivation would have something in common with “dip”.

  5. Yenlit says:

    It’s probably connected with the words “dip”, “deep” and “dive”.

  6. Never heard of the duck definition, I’ve heard of dibble as a name though, remember pc dibble anyone?!

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