Main definitions of nab in US English:

: nab1NAB2


verbnabs, nabbing, nabbed

[with object]informal
  • 1Catch (someone) doing something wrong.

    ‘Olympic drug tests nabbed another athlete yesterday’
    • ‘The man falls in his own trap when cops set out to nab him.’
    • ‘He was nabbed by members of the Garda National Drugs Unit in December 1998 when he was caught sneaking into the country and jailed for a year.’
    • ‘In a murky turn that's never fully explained, we learn that Canadian immigration authorities want to nab her, as she's in the country illegally.’
    • ‘On February 10, 1994, he was nabbed by the security forces.’
    • ‘He jumped bail on the eve of his 1981 trial and spent two decades on the run before he was nabbed.’
    • ‘The CIA missed its best chance of nabbing him - during his stay in Sudan - and soon he was off to Afghanistan.’
    • ‘And now here we have a police spokesperson saying, ‘No, we wanted to nab him not because of what he did, but because of what he might do.’’
    • ‘Many reasons are being attributed for the failure to nab him.’
    • ‘Police in Scotland have nabbed their first motorists caught using mobile phones while behind the wheel.’
    • ‘But it was the Iraqis who nabbed him and turned him over to coalition authorities.’
    • ‘This sense of statelessness terrified him and he dreaded what might happen if the Indonesian or Malaysian police nabbed him.’
    • ‘Yes, I hand out parking tickets, but if I've nabbed you, you can bet it was fair and square.’
    • ‘But he was nabbed in Denmark so the royal trust fund is safe.’
    • ‘He has short hair, and when the police nabbed him, he was dressed in blue track pants and a greyish jersey.’
    • ‘Why announce his arrest to the world before actually nabbing him?’
    • ‘Hume finally nabbed him living a genteel life in San Francisco, and sent him to prison.’
    • ‘The CIA and Peruvian officials figured out where he shopped, combed through trash bins to find the wrappers and his location, and nabbed him.’
    • ‘That is why when Delhi Police nabbed him on June 9 on charges of violating the Official Secrets Act, fellow journalists were amazed.’
    • ‘He's been detained in Japan since mid-July, when he was nabbed for traveling with an invalid passport.’
    • ‘He had absolutely no fear of getting caught in his robbery, nor any worries about the police nabbing him for his drug use.’
    seize, grab, snatch, grab hold of, seize hold of, take hold of, lay hands on, lay one's hands on, get one's hands on, grasp, grip, clutch, clench, fasten on, pluck, hold, hang on to
    catch, capture, apprehend, arrest, take into custody, place under arrest, seize, take in, bring in
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Take, grab, or steal (something)
      ‘Dan nabbed the seat next to mine’
      • ‘Tucker lifted his fork and nabbed a piece from Merissa.’
      • ‘Josie walks up to her dorm, and nabs a key chain from her pocket.’
      • ‘Sex, death, love, religion and coffee are all present and correct, bustling and jostling with each other as if attempting to nab a good seat in a particularly packed cinema.’
      • ‘A bit of nosing around behind the curtains helped us nab seats in the second row for the best view.’
      • ‘After nabbing Brian from a care facility, Larry brings him to his apartment.’
      • ‘Nonetheless, he was openly delighted at nabbing the final seat in the ward.’
      • ‘It is even sometimes possible to nab an emergency-exit seat with extra legroom.’
      • ‘This presence is kind of like hopping out of the car to stand in a parking space so no one nabs it while your friend drives around the block.’
      • ‘The prize, set at €100,000, is one of the richest literary bonanzas to nab.’
      • ‘She unfolds a piece of paper which she nabs from her pocket.’
      • ‘But then I nabbed the top deck front seat view on the next vintage vehicle for a snail's pace crawl across Central London, and suddenly the wait was worthwhile.’
      • ‘She took the garden spade she'd nabbed from her garage and started to dig a small circle in front of the tombstone.’
      • ‘He reached into the trunk of the taxi and grabbed his suitcase, nabbing the bottle.’
      • ‘Use the spear for nabbing medium-size freshwater fish like bass and catfish, or ocean fish such as grouper and flounder.’
      • ‘They had not only defeated the evil Mayor but had taken out his guards and nabbed several choice pieces of loot from the mansion.’
      • ‘Undoing the clasp, he lurches forward and nabs the strap of my dress.’
      • ‘I nab a seat nearby Jessie and make sure that there aren't any wandering hands.’
      • ‘That afternoon, before I could snake out to the buses, I was nabbed by two of the student council decorating committee.’
      • ‘The fugitive bird was finally nabbed between 1pm and 2pm last Thursday but is said to be recovering well from the ordeal… with the help of 60 hens!’
      • ‘Still shaking I opened my door and walked across the hallway and nabbed some tissues.’
      purloin, thieve, take, take for oneself, help oneself to, loot, pilfer, abscond with, run off with, appropriate, abstract, carry off, shoplift
      View synonyms


Late 17th century (also as napp; compare with kidnap): of unknown origin.




Main definitions of nab in US English:

: nab1NAB2



  • 1National Association of Broadcasters.

  • 2New American Bible.