Definition of tabby in English:



  • 1A grey or brownish cat mottled or streaked with dark stripes.

    • ‘Mavis and Stella aren't happy about my false start of five minutes ago, and the tabbies are sitting side by side, noses in the air, on the middle of the kitchen counter.’
    • ‘Debbie has fallen in love with a beautiful dark coloured tabby who, like most of the others, still has two weeks to go before he's ready for adoption.’
    • ‘They were all similar to Juniper, but each came in a different breed or color; some were ginger, some were tabbies, Manx even… Every kind of cat.’
    • ‘The cat's eyes were an extraordinarily bright shade of blue, and its coat was marked with white stripes similar to that of a tabby, but tipped with the black face, tail, and feet points of a Siamese.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘It takes about two years for the coat to come in completely on colors other than tabbies,’ says one cat association.’
    • ‘There are tabbies and toms in white, black, grey and ginger.’
    • ‘Another was a brown tabby, she was a very sweet kitten.’
    • ‘On my way home I was accosted by a mewing tabby and white shorthair cat that proceeded to follow me home.’
    • ‘The cat could be a tabby, a tortoiseshell, maybe even a Siamese.’
    • ‘We're very very proud, and he beat a very merited beautiful silver tabby.’
    • ‘With great reluctance, she handed over the little grey tabby.’
    • ‘In the next suite was a man, a woman and a dark grey tabby cat.’
    • ‘Princess, a gray tabby, ran away, the bell on her pink collar that bore her name jingling.’
    • ‘The cat was an orange tabby with amber eyes that were narrowed with anger.’
    • ‘Tumble, an adorable gray tabby, was a member of our family from the time she was born.’
    • ‘While she stroked the brown tabby, she reflected on the day ahead.’
    • ‘Skittles, an orange tabby, was left behind during a summer stay in southern Wisconsin.’
    • ‘I noticed two cats curled up on the edge of the bed, one orange and one gray, both tabbies, and asked, ‘Is that your cat or a family cat?’’
    cat, domestic cat, wild cat, alley cat, kitten
    View synonyms
  • 2mass noun A fabric with a watered pattern, typically silk.

    • ‘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.’
  • 3mass noun A plain weave.

  • 4mass noun A type of concrete made of lime, shells, gravel, and stones, which dries very hard.

  • 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’
    • ‘Her grandma promptly picked up the water jug, and poured it through the screen, onto the little tabby kitten.’
    • ‘She named another Ru, for no reason, she had a tabby coat with a tan stripe across her nose.’
    • ‘A small, tabby kitten walked out, sniffing the air.’
    • ‘Though the tigers involved are usually of the orange colour, white tigers have been mated with lions to produce white Ligers and golden tabby tigers have been mated with lions to produce golden Ligers.’
    • ‘His orange tabby fur was normal among street toms.’
    • ‘The tabby kitten made a soft mewing sound and rolled out of the playful fight.’
    • ‘She went back to help the cat and recognised a tiny bit of tabby fur that hadn't been burnt off, and realised the cat was her own.’
    • ‘Just outside their door, three Cats probed their defenses, a young notch-eared orange-haired tom and two tabby females.’
    • ‘Their coloration is similar to that of a tabby domestic cat and makes them difficult to see in their forested habitats.’
    • ‘I glanced over to where he was looking and saw a creature like a tiger, but with tabby coloring instead of the traditional black and orange stripes.’
    • ‘When I was young, my aunt took a kitten from that cat, a little tabby one, before she left - I hope she found somewhere more peaceful with it.’
    • ‘He is an exceptionally cute, friendly and talkative young cat, with classic blotchy tabby coat.’
    • ‘Two little bunnies owe their lives to Tess, the tabby kitten.’
    • ‘He was a big white cat with tabby patches and he was like a member of the family.’
    • ‘Then there was the surgery cat, a tough little tabby, much like Harry Cat except his tabby stripes were broken into small pieces by the intrusion of some foreign gene in his heritage.’
    • ‘Waiting for her at the gate was the neighbour's tabby tomcat who bore the unoriginal name of Tiger.’
    • ‘The two smallest kittens looked alike they had the same tabby fur, the smallest of the cats also matched as they had the same caramel coat and the biggest cats had the same fluffy white fur.’
    • ‘Seeing no one save a small tabby kitten lying curled upon a red plush sofa, I took the chance to look around.’
    • ‘He then looked over towards the tabby kitten and touched it.’
    speckled, blotched, blotchy, spotted, spotty, dotted, streaked, streaky, mottled, marbled, flecked, freckled, stippled, piebald, skewbald, pied, brindled, brindle, marled
    View synonyms


Late 16th century (denoting a kind of silk taffeta, originally striped, later with a watered finish: see tabby (sense 2 of the noun)): from French tabis, based on Arabic al-‘Attābiyya, the name of the quarter of Baghdad where tabby was manufactured.