Definition of dribs and drabs in US English:

dribs and drabs

plural noun

in dribs and drabs
  • In small scattered or sporadic amounts.

    ‘doing the work in dribs and drabs’
    • ‘As to the balance, the remaining 20 per cent, which are a much smaller market of products, they will be removed in dribs and drabs over the next few months, certainly prior to March next year.’
    • ‘It always comes in dribs and drabs but there are clear signs of a shortage this year.’
    • ‘They arrive in dribs and drabs, and Alexander pins them down immediately.’
    • ‘Does the whole ‘gallery’ concept become somewhat worthless if I start showing you pictures in dribs and drabs within the body of the weblog?’
    • ‘Slowly the truth came out - never cleanly, but in dribs and drabs.’
    • ‘Our man is checking the literature, and feeding his findings to us in dribs and drabs.’
    • ‘Companies have been able to outsource because it's been in dribs and drabs, a few thousand jobs here and there.’
    • ‘As the little ones crowded in dribs and drabs around the ‘project officers’ in the Physics room to solve the puzzles, it had an electric effect on the waiting crowd too as they became elated at the results.’
    • ‘That statement went out in dribs and drabs overnight and the Times and the Post have stories on it on their websites today.’
    • ‘Presently the place began to fill up in dribs and drabs.’
    • ‘But in dribs and drabs most of those picked up have been granted refugee status and allowed to stay.’
    • ‘That's not a job that can be done in dribs and drabs, though.’
    • ‘The first big wave came from Germany and arrived in dribs and drabs, while the Vikings - blond and notoriously bad-tempered - preferred to travel in longships.’
    • ‘Our warm-ups are properly organised, and get everyone totally prepared, whereas other teams tend to turn up in dribs and drabs.’
    • ‘I prefer to do my confessing in dribs and drabs, sharing little pieces of my life right here every week, although I'm not always aware I'm even doing it.’
    • ‘But they are happening in dribs and drabs, so you don't see the whole picture.’
    • ‘These cuts are being announced in dribs and drabs to disguise the biggest cutbacks since the grim days of the 1980s.’
    • ‘I generally buy a bunch of stuff on Sundays that I expect to use during the week, but I always end up stocking up in dribs and drabs during the week.’
    • ‘The islands we live on had been known as Britain for a long time before the English even arrived here in dribs and drabs sometime in the fifth or sixth century.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, the dancers were emerging in dribs and drabs.’


Mid 19th century: from obsolete drib (see dribble) and drab (by reduplication).


dribs and drabs

/ˌdribz ən ˈdrabz//ˌdrɪbz ən ˈdræbz/