Definition of dabble in English:



  • 1with object Immerse (one's hands or feet) partially in water and move them around gently.

    ‘they dabbled their feet in the rock pools’
    • ‘I was too tired to eat properly, but we made the best of it and finished off with a walk along the beach, where I dabbled my digits in the warm waters of the Pacific.’
    • ‘She dabbled her toes in the reflective water below, as he came and sat down beside her.’
    • ‘Clair and Misha dabble their feet in the swimming pool, pondering last night's debate.’
    splash, dip, paddle, wet, moisten, dampen, immerse, trail
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    1. 1.1no object (of a duck or other waterbird) move the bill around in shallow water while feeding.
      ‘teal dabble in the shallows’
      • ‘Meanwhile, the green-winged teals were dabbling about in the water as well, looking for things to eat.’
      • ‘Black Ducks dabble for food, tipping their bodies up and dunking their heads to forage under water.’
      • ‘The Greater White-fronted Goose grazes while walking on land, and dabbles when in the water.’
      • ‘Like other diving ducks they forage under water, although in addition to diving they also walk along the bottom or dabble.’
      • ‘The Black-footed Albatross forages while swimming, dabbling like a duck to reach food near the surface of the water.’
      • ‘The Ring-necked Duck forages by diving, but is usually found in shallow water and forages and dabbles at the surface as well.’
      • ‘Active and agile, they forage in emergent vegetation along shorelines and in wet, shallow, muddy areas, mainly by dabbling their bills at the water's surface.’
      • ‘Although they are considered divers, they often feed by dabbling.’
      • ‘Gadwalls forage mainly while swimming, either taking items from the surface or dabbling in shallow water, or diving, which they are more likely to do than most other dabblers.’
      • ‘They will forage on land, but find most of their food by dabbling in shallow, muddy water.’
      • ‘They forage while wading, dabbling in shallow water, or while walking on mudflats or the shore.’
  • 2no object Take part in an activity in a casual or superficial way.

    ‘he dabbled in left-wing politics’
    • ‘They've dabbled in dreamy pop music, trip-hop and dub-flavoured psychedelic hip-hop, changing up styles and experimenting on each new album.’
    • ‘Businesses who dabbled in e-commerce during the boom are now reaping the rewards with more than half now making a 20 per cent return on their initial investment.’
    • ‘If space is limited in your garden - or if you live in a flat and have no garden at all - then you've probably dabbled in window boxes before.’
    • ‘It's astounding that, at 24 years of age, the stand-up comic has already dabbled in more professions than most people attempt in a lifetime.’
    • ‘Early in his maturity, he dabbled a little in the important musical styles of his era, but in his later works, harmonic consonance largely holds sway.’
    • ‘In fact, the next album looks set to dabble a lot more in politics.’
    • ‘Looking back over the many extracurricular activities that our children have dabbled in at different stages, nothing has enriched their lives more than music.’
    • ‘The young Mary O'Connor had already dabbled in a few other careers before she entered Templemore College at the age of 25.’
    • ‘Garfield dabbled in politics for three years as a lobbyist for the auto industry.’
    • ‘She smoked and drank when she pleased, even dabbled in drugs.’
    • ‘A gifted pianist and saxophonist, he dabbled in country, jazz, big band and blues, and put his stamp on it all with a deep, warm voice roughened by heartbreak from a hard childhood in the segregated South.’
    • ‘I dabbled a little bit with smoking when I was at school, but quickly gave it up because I did not like it.’
    • ‘She threw herself into the club scene and, although she claims not to have dabbled much herself, saw several friends fall victim to drug-related mental illness.’
    • ‘Art was an act of worship, not something to be dabbled with.’
    • ‘In her 20s, Coppola dabbled in modelling, photography and clothes design, occasionally shooting videos for America's alternative rock royalty.’
    • ‘When I decided to sell I thought I'd end up with two or three non-executive directorships, dabble a bit in the stock market, play some golf.’
    • ‘Those who offer self-publishing services to authors who would otherwise remain unknown are naturally keen to point out that many writers who are now household names have at one time or another dabbled in self-publishing.’
    • ‘As a young boy he dabbled a little in painting but left it completely when he began to work at his brother's studio in Kodungalloor.’
    • ‘Spanish gentlemen were also dabbling in the arts for the sake of their health.’
    • ‘Grainger always considered himself primarily a choral composer who occasionally dabbled in short works for orchestra and chamber ensemble.’
    toy with, dip into, scratch the surface of, flirt with, tinker with, potter about with, potter around with, potter round with, trifle with, play with, fiddle with, dally with, have a smattering of
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Mid 16th century: from obsolete Dutch dabbelen, or a frequentative of the verb dab.