Definition of quibble in English:



  • 1A slight objection or criticism.

    ‘the only quibble about this book is the price’
    • ‘However, this is a slight quibble in what is an otherwise fine book.’
    • ‘I find little with which to quarrel and only a bit over which to quibble - and the quibbles supplement the book's argument more than challenge it.’
    • ‘Minor quibbles aside, however, it was hard to be critical.’
    • ‘A few quibbles aside, we should value the BBC's comprehensive and dedicated coverage of an event that continues to grip our imagination, even if the weather gods frequently rain on Wimbledon's parade.’
    • ‘In spite of these quibbles, Lancaster's book should prove a valuable resource to ministers and serious laity who are willing to grapple with issues of biblical authority.’
    • ‘My only quibble with this fine book is with the way in which it which it casually ascribes ultimate influence on the shaping of genres to the power of commerce and its supposedly attendant sensibilities.’
    • ‘Despite these quibbles, I would recommend the book as a provocative introduction to some of the central postures adopted by Judaism and Christianity in the face of basic human questions.’
    • ‘These criticisms are not quibbles over details, for these texts are among the Arthurian documents cited and used as sources for the arguments put forward.’
    • ‘However, these are minor quibbles when set against the powerful argument supported throughout the book.’
    • ‘But these are small quibbles, and the greater value of this book is that it has its readers asking such questions in the first place.’
    • ‘These are minor quibbles, however, and the book overall is well-written, highly readable, and very enjoyable and informative.’
    • ‘But, if these minor quibbles are the only major criticisms that can be leveled at the album, then there is little worry to be had.’
    • ‘Cavils and quibbles aside, this is a tome to own.’
    • ‘Despite these quibbles, I recommend this book as a widely accessible and clearly written summary of the main causes of the Great Depression and its legacy for economic policy.’
    • ‘Of course, these are minor quibbles with a book that provides such a wealth of content.’
    • ‘My only quibble is that some comments - criticisms and praise - remain unchanged year to year.’
    • ‘This is a quibble rather than a significant criticism.’
    • ‘Other than the political quibbles, London critics were mostly rapturous about this modern-dress revival.’
    • ‘But really, those are minor quibbles compared to the book's overwhelming strengths.’
    • ‘Sadly, one of the major parties has slight quibbles with the details of the agreement.’
    minor criticism, trivial objection, trivial complaint, adverse comment, protest, query, argument, exception, moan, grumble, grouse, cavil
    evasion, dodge
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  • 2archaic A play on words; a pun.


  • Argue or raise objections about a trivial matter.

    ‘they are always quibbling about the amount they are prepared to pay’
    • ‘But quibbling aside, it is clear the company's future is in gambling.’
    • ‘It sounds like I'm quibbling over grammar, but actually I reckon it's important.’
    • ‘Yet there's no point in quibbling with Arnold about this.’
    • ‘And not that Williams was quibbling with the nature of the win.’
    • ‘With the universality of English largely a result of America's global dominance, it's time for other English speakers to stop quibbling about whether the American usage is right or wrong.’
    • ‘But that is quibbling with what is an engaging, warm and character-driven story.’
    • ‘But there's no point quibbling: it's extremely good in either version.’
    • ‘Perhaps this amounts to quibbling with success, but nations with traditions of military victory, must nitpick if they hope to learn from the past.’
    • ‘Look, we're not quibbling or splitting hairs about this agreement.’
    • ‘Indeed, this makes argument about the relative merits of security and liberty impossible; we are reduced to quibbling about dictionary definitions.’
    • ‘Actually, the Mies van der Rohe creation was torn down in 1930 and what now stands is a copy made in 1986-but who's quibbling.’
    • ‘He will have made enemies of all his former managers, but few quibbled with Thompson's logic when he parted company with each of them.’
    • ‘The two judicial bodies are also quibbling over the higher committee that will be in charge of supervising the first multi - candidate presidential elections in Egypt's history.’
    • ‘It is expensive - between €600 and €700 a week for Jason to reside there - but Frank is not quibbling.’
    • ‘But the transfer has bogged down in quibbling over technicalities.’
    • ‘The argument was somewhat simplistic, and off on some facts, but the room was packed, and no one was quibbling over details.’
    • ‘The amount of money being quibbled over is not nearly enough to launch a serious effort to save our Aboriginal languages.’
    • ‘It was quibbling over the interpretation of the contract it agreed with the company before the work was carried out, he said.’
    • ‘He said: ‘We are not quibbling at the actual amount of increase or at the basic philosophy of a national minimum wage.’’
    • ‘The next, his ministers are quibbling over the £164,000 needed to keep North Yorkshire's emergency doctors service going.’
    be evasive, equivocate, avoid the issue, prevaricate, hedge, fudge, be ambiguous
    find fault with, raise trivial objections to, complain about, object to, cavil at, carp about
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Early 17th century (in the sense play on words, pun): diminutive of obsolete quib a petty objection probably from Latin quibus, dative and ablative plural of qui, quae, quod who, what, which frequently used in legal documents and so associated with subtle distinctions or verbal niceties.