Main definitions of dab in English

: dab1dab2DAB3

dab1

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1Press against (something) lightly several times with a piece of absorbent material in order to clean or dry it or to apply a substance.

    ‘he dabbed his mouth with his napkin’
    no object ‘she dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief’
    • ‘He dabbed the cut lightly with another paper towel before working on the band-aid.’
    • ‘She lightly dabbed her bleeding forehead and winced, the pain shooting through her entire head like a sudden bolt of lightning.’
    • ‘She sniffed and held back a wince when he dabbed gently at the cut.’
    • ‘I wiped the lines of mascara off her cheeks and dabbed her tears dry.’
    • ‘Alexeivich used a paper napkin to dab at the perspiration rolling off his nose as he spoke, but he doggedly refused to remove his jacket or loosen his tie.’
    • ‘She picked up her napkin and dabbed daintily at her mouth.’
    • ‘As he watched himself on the screen, Jackson could be seen looking emotional and dabbing his eyes with a tissue.’
    • ‘She quickly dabbed her handkerchief across her mouth, wiping away the substance from her lips.’
    • ‘Donnie raised his clean hand and dabbed the sweat from Steven's forehead, under his straggly hair.’
    • ‘Mrs Wyatt dabbed away tears with a tissue clutched in her hand and looked shocked by the judge's decision.’
    • ‘She took a deep breath and dabbed at the corner of her eyes with her handkerchief.’
    • ‘A smile was playing around her lips as she dabbed delicately at the corner of her eyes.’
    • ‘I took my napkin and gently dabbed it at my mouth, hoping that I hadn't spurted out coffee in my surprise.’
    • ‘Mia dabbed her mouth with a napkin and placed it on her lap.’
    • ‘Determinedly refusing to remove his jacket, Dr. Alexeivich tugged at his tie and dabbed perspiration from his brow.’
    • ‘Frances was dabbing at her eyes with a paper tissue.’
    • ‘She felt strong hands grab her shoulders and a warm cloth dabbing at her face.’
    • ‘It is not surprising that many of those watching can be seen reaching for handkerchiefs and dabbing their eyes.’
    • ‘An elderly man in a shabby black overcoat and wide-brimmed beaver hat was standing in front of the magistrate's desk, clutching a newspaper in one hand and dabbing his eyes with a none too clean handkerchief.’
    • ‘Mr. Wellington dabbed the corner of his mouth with his napkin and swallowed as he prepared to make an announcement.’
    pat, press, touch, blot, mop, swab, smudge
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Apply (a substance) with light quick strokes.
      ‘she dabbed disinfectant on the cut’
      • ‘Afterwards she fixed her ponytail and dabbed on some cherry lip gloss before heading out the door.’
      • ‘Solve the problem of dry lips by dabbing your lips with lip balm.’
      • ‘Beth quickly ran a hairbrush through her blonde hair and dabbed on the tiniest bit of make-up.’
      • ‘I also dabbed on some lip-gloss and blush, and even managed to evenly apply some black eyeliner.’
      • ‘Use a small, pointed brush to dab a tiny amount of concealer right on the blemish, pressing into the spot to cover completely.’
      • ‘I dabbed concealer on some red spots and put on a coat of rusty colored lipstick.’
      • ‘They were black specks in the distance, nothing more than what looked to be dots of blotched ink dabbed on to the bright, clear blue sky.’
      • ‘The sample - usually blood or cells from inside the cheek - is dabbed on to a stain card and returned to the lab in a tamperproof bag.’
      • ‘For a mottled effect try painting your pot in a plain color then use a small sea sponge to dab on a contrasting color after the base color has dried.’
      • ‘To fragrance your kitchen cabinets and drawers, place a good scent dabbed on a cotton ball into an inconspicuous comer.’
      • ‘More than just dabbing bits of colour on eggs, in Hungary egg painting is considered an art.’
      • ‘Apply by gently dabbing the lotion onto cleansed skin with a cottonwool ball, and then leave it to dry.’
      • ‘Individual sores or insect bites can be dabbed directly with lavender oil.’
      • ‘She shrieked in pain when a nurse dabbed ointment on her skin.’
      • ‘I dabbed on little piles of wasabi and pickled ginger around the rice and between the fish.’
      • ‘You are, perhaps, more likely to dab on some moisturising cream that you know and trust rather than some unknown concoction in a vanilla coloured jar.’
      • ‘I quickly splashed cold water to my face, tied my hair in a low ponytail and dabbed concealer to that annoying, red spot on my nose.’
      • ‘A few minutes later, after I dabbed on some foundation and lip gloss, I was ready to go.’
      • ‘I dabbed my lips lightly with lip gloss and stood back to assess myself.’
      • ‘Leave the layer of dead skin intact and dab antibiotic ointment on it.’
  • 2dialect Strike with a light blow.

noun

  • 1A small amount of something.

    ‘she licked a dab of chocolate from her finger’
    • ‘Using a cotton swab, apply a few drops of vitamin E from a capsule or a dab of zinc ointment inside the tip of your nose every night before bed until your nosebleeds stop.’
    • ‘A dab of white-wine vinegar is useful to get plates and cutlery spotlessly clean.’
    • ‘Sagerman applies thousands of dabs of oil paint with a palette knife and meticulously records the colors, the number of strokes and the amount of time spent on each color in a ledger for each painting.’
    • ‘Use both the body wash and body lotion, then just a dab of perfume.’
    • ‘Working in random, one-inch sections, take a dab of pliable pomade, and coat and twist hair as you go.’
    • ‘To keep the shine away, add a dab of loose or pressed powder.’
    • ‘The surfaces of his pictures are speckled with dabs of oil pigment almost reminiscent of a tapestry in its pattern and texture.’
    • ‘It took a big chunk out of the morning but even so the third bedroom got its final dabs of paint and was declared finished well before the close of day.’
    • ‘My dark auburn hair was curled in loose ringlets that cascaded down my back and I just had foundation, mascara, and a dab of lip-gloss for the natural look.’
    • ‘Place a dab of chervil pesto on each plate and serve.’
    • ‘Well, I don't use make up daily, just kohl to line my eyes, and a dab of lipstick.’
    • ‘He could see her beautiful dark brown hair, her glossy green eyes that seemed to know everything, and her face that looked so close to perfection without a dab of makeup.’
    • ‘Apply dabs of cream onto your forehead, cheekbones, chin, and neck, and gently smooth it over the skin in a circular motion, working from the outside of your face toward the center.’
    • ‘When you brush your teeth, also gently scrub your tongue with a dab of toothpaste.’
    • ‘They came breaded and deep fried, along with a sound celeriac remoulade, cold battered onion rings, salad and dabs of tartare sauce.’
    • ‘Not only does a dab of toner refresh the skin, it helps to remove any cleanser that hasn't been properly removed.’
    • ‘A touch of mascara, a pinch of blush, a dab of lip gloss, and I was set to go.’
    • ‘For sashimi, put a dab of wasabi directly on the fish.’
    • ‘Use a dab of pomade to separate curls and zap frizz.’
    • ‘There was a time when a grazed knee in the playground merited a quick visit to the school nurse, a dab of TCP and a sticking plaster.’
    drop, dash, spot, smear, dribble, trickle, splash, sprinkle, speck, taste, lick, trace, touch, hint, suggestion, soupçon, particle, bit, modicum
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A brief application of a piece of absorbent material to a surface.
      ‘apply concealer with light dabs’
      • ‘Angela does a few quick swipes and dabs at her own face, puts on something amazing, and throws her hair up.’
      • ‘Even in the foregrounds, the brushstrokes are a web of quick flickering dabs, layered, but not blended or otherwise heavily worked.’
      • ‘With every stroke and dab and curve of the brush she was losing a little bit of herself.’
      • ‘Writing between dabs on the forehead with a wet washcloth, she speaks of an ‘inchoate longing’ to visit paradise.’
      • ‘Because Impressionist painters had to work quickly, oil paint was usually put on the canvas in small dabs or short strokes, often with little color mixing.’
      pat, press, touch, blot, mop, wipe, smudge, smear
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A small portion of cannabis oil or resin, or another drug in a highly concentrated form, that can be vaporized or burned and inhaled.
      ‘the patient reported taking a dab of marijuana approximately five hours before his appointment’
      ‘the dab can be heated from underneath with a match, lighter, or candle until it begins to emit smoke’
  • 2dabsBritish informal Fingerprints.

    ‘the catalogue is being dusted for your dabs’
    • ‘The dabs are used to identify pupils in computerised class registers or library systems.’
    • ‘Biometric national ID's problem is that it's like investigating a crime solely by taking dabs and going house-to-house around the whole country looking for matches.’
    • ‘Campaigners are concerned that thousands of schools have used their money to buy fingerprint scanners to get kids' dabs at registration, at the library counter, and at the canteen checkout.’
    • ‘I would presume that if they found my dabs at the scene of a crime they could match them with the details they acquired at immigration.’
    • ‘If all the dabs were already on record, this could help reduce future police paperwork.’
    • ‘My bra straps held his neck to the metal and I knew not a single dab of mine would be found on his body.’
    • ‘As i see it unless you have had your dabs taken in the past they should not be on a database’

Origin

Middle English: symbolic of a light striking movement; compare with dabble and dib.

Pronunciation

dab

/dab/

Main definitions of dab in English

: dab1dab2DAB3

dab2

noun

  • A small, commercially important flatfish found chiefly in the North Atlantic.

    • ‘In Jutland dabs are salted and dried and sold under a name which means ‘dried Jutlanders’.’
    • ‘The most common are dragonets, topknots, dabs, plaice and, if you're lucky, the occasional anglerfish and thornback ray.’
    • ‘Even though this rig is especially good for gurnards, it also proves superbly successful for dabs, plaice, megrim, even small turbot and brill, also haddock, cod and whiting.’
    • ‘These are always the prime spots for bass, dabs and plaice.’
    • ‘Providing you're casting on to sand, it doesn't matter if you're fishing from a pier, breakwater, surf beach or rock ledge, the dabs will be there.’
    • ‘The traps would have mainly been used in flowing rivers and tidal estuaries to catch all manner of fish including eel, salmon, trout, dabs, flounders, etc.’
    • ‘The same kinds of places can throw up plaice, small turbot and dabs during the daytime, especially around the mouth of the Camel estuary, within which the fishing port of Padstow resides.’
    • ‘As my travels have taken me further and further away from cod and dabs and more into wahoo and tuna territory, so my tastes have been widened and I think I now have what could be called a cosmopolitan piscine palate.’
    • ‘Nobody would say that a flounder, dab or rockling is going to pull hard, although I admit that flounder on light rods are fun.’
    • ‘The tope work around the rising edges and base of these banks scaring up dabs, whiting and gurnards that hug the sand waiting for food to be brought to them by the tide.’
    • ‘In fact, the very biggest dabs are often found inshore during periods when sprat shoals are tight to shore during flat calm seas in the middle of high-pressure weather systems.’

Origin

Late Middle English: of unknown origin.

Pronunciation

dab

/dab/

Main definitions of dab in English

: dab1dab2DAB3

DAB3

  • Digital audio broadcasting.