Definition of nib in English:



  • 1The pointed end part of a pen, which distributes the ink on the writing surface.

    • ‘Was given a pen, by a pen shop - Elephant and Coral - who feel that authors should get nice pens (this was a Pilot pen with the nib carved out of the barrel, and looks like it will be a lovely thing to write with).’
    • ‘Having discovered through the internet that members of her family invented the pen nib and founded Birmingham University, Leggatt can easily appreciate the lure of the unknown.’
    • ‘His nib catches the paper's grain and a small blot spreads.’
    • ‘She uses fine cloth, velvet or canvas as the base for paintings done using specialised thin and wide nibs.’
    • ‘They'd made a museum about pencils which was really boring (and incidentally also included some pen nibs to try and fill things out a bit which I think is cheating).’
    • ‘I was forever dismantling the nibs and washing them in the sink and finding ink blots on my shirts.’
    • ‘We have ink nibs that attach to little wooden handles and I love dipping them into the ink and writing on our ivory-colored stationery.’
    • ‘Future projects include continuing a series of line drawings using pens with increasingly finer and finer nibs.’
    • ‘Winston fitted a nib into the penholder and sucked it to get the grease off.’
    • ‘The awards had branched out into so many categories over the years, including Online, and the nib was a reminder of the Walkley's history, the pen, or, more accurately print journalism.’
    • ‘An angled nib means the writer can always see the writing - a particular boon for left-handers - and the hand stays in a better position, the inventor claims.’
    • ‘It may have inspired the design of the post-quillian nib.’
    • ‘I like pens that you have to twist to get the nib out.’
    • ‘I've also used pen nibs - not the ‘Serjeant-Major,’ which is too dry, but softer nibs, like the ‘J.’’
    • ‘A technological marvel, each pen has a little pumping heart that delivers just the correct amount of ink to the tip of the nib - brilliant.’
    • ‘Writing was done with nibs fitted into a pen holder.’
    • ‘Masterton is an inspirational character who joined BoS aged 15 straight from school, spent his first day changing nibs on fountain pens, and rose through the ranks to end up with his signature on the banknotes.’
    • ‘A packet of nibs at 1/3 and a bottle of ink at 6d are also listed.’
    • ‘I could never draw with a steel quill worth a damn, so I kept a pot of ink and a couple of nibs above my mouse.’
    • ‘At this, Ian pressed his pen so hard into the surface of the paper that he broke his nib.’
    tip, sharp end, tapered end, end, extremity
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    1. 1.1A pointed or projecting part of an object.
      ‘slide the tile into place until the nibs hook on’
      • ‘That's not a problem - all of Lomi Design's wardrobes are made to order and can be customised to suit your space, whether it involves protruding chimneys, wall nibs, or sloped ceilings.’
      bill, nib, mandible
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  • 2Shelled and crushed coffee or cocoa beans.

    • ‘When she asked what it was, I responded ‘Homemade marshmallows, roasted peanuts and cocoa nibs enrobed in dark chocolate’, a dark mood crossed her face.’
    • ‘Seared foie gras and diver scallops are handled yet another way: the nibs - the crunchy centers of the cocoa bean are the stars, made into nougatine.’
    • ‘In a small bowl, combine the cacao nibs and brown sugar.’
    • ‘Sprinkle with some cocoa nibs, fold the dough in half and roll to 1/2-inch thick.’
    • ‘I picked up all sorts of tips from him - decadent Parisian Hot Chocolate doesn't contain cream, only use unsweetened cocoa powder in recipes, Scharffen Burger cocoa nibs are currently unavailable so try Dagoba instead.’
    • ‘Add the cocoa nibs and 5-spice powder while stirring constantly to coat.’
    • ‘They roast their own beans, create their own nibs, temper their own chocolate… all in a small factory near the San Francisco airport.’
    • ‘The cacao nibs and pistachios had a tendency to bob to the surface, but I am hoping that they will still infuse the jam with flavor and add textural variety.’
    • ‘In Parisian restaurants where I dined last fall, the petite sweets that accompanied coffee invariably included little rounds of white chocolate sprinkled with cocoa nibs.’
    • ‘This involved process includes roasting the beans, winnowing the shells, and grinding the nibs to form chocolate liquor.’
  • 3A speck of solid matter in a coat of paint or varnish.

    • ‘Wet sanding removed the dust nibs, leveled the surface and produced a satin finish.’
    • ‘Usually, it will be beneficial to sand with 180-240 paper between coats to reduce nibs and imperfections.’
    • ‘Remove any small dust nibs that have gotten trapped in the finish before it sets up, smooth out any remaining brush marks or over-spray, remove any other minor imperfections in the finish.’


Late 16th century (in the sense ‘beak, nose’): probably from Middle Dutch nib or Middle Low German nibbe, variant of nebbe beak (see neb).