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#102690 05/07/03 03:56 AM
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In the language of young people, one may assert a claim to ownership or entitlement by claiming to have "dibs on" the object in question. From whence cometh this expression? And why are dibs always "on" something? And don't give me any nonsense about "dibstones" unless you know what they were, how they were used and what they have to do with "dibsing" something.


#102691 05/07/03 05:42 AM
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I surely don't know the answer, but I have dibs on the first reply to your thread.......


#102692 05/07/03 08:20 AM
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I'm not sure about this, but I fancied that it was a lift from Cockney rhyming slang for fingers - dabblers -> dibblers -> dibs.

Not standing by it, though.


#102693 05/07/03 10:23 AM
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dibs on the first reply

Just a usage question: Can you claim dibs on something while simultaneously actually taking that on which you claim dibs? I've never heard it used as anything other than making a claim before actually executing that claim.


#102694 05/07/03 01:03 PM
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It's about time we had a nitpickers thread again, innit Faldage? I call shotgun on the first reply though!

Anyway, Quinion has a pretty thorough discussion on 'dibs':
http://www.quinion.com/words/qa/qa-dib1.htm


#102695 05/07/03 01:05 PM
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I wan't pickin no nit. I was just askin, loike.


#102696 05/07/03 01:21 PM
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I haven't heard "dibs" since early 1920s. Word-Detective cannot add much:
http://www.word-detective.com/041899.html#dibs


#102697 05/07/03 01:44 PM
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I haven't heard "dibs" since early 1920s.

Dear Dr. Bill, we use it all the time! ("We" meaning, say, people born after 1970...)


#102698 05/07/03 01:55 PM
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I've heard people (mostly children) calling dibs on things since I was a little girl back in the early 1950s.

I just asked a group of 8-year-olds, "What does it mean when you Call dibs on something?"

One child answered, "It means you get to have it because you called dibs before anybody else."

Funny. I need to ask the kids in my next class--after such an answer--"Well, what exactly do you think 'dibs' means?"

#102699 05/07/03 02:07 PM
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I would think that, children's language being normally very conservative in such matters and largely ignored by adults, that there could easily be a provenance af much greater age than the first recorded use. That it doesn't seem to match British usage would seem to argue against an origin in a British children's game, however. Do we have any citations from those of us from outside of North America?


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