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#102690 - 05/06/03 11:56 PM Dibs
Father Steve Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/06/00
Posts: 2788
Loc: Seattle, Washington, USA
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 01:42 AM Re: Dibs
RubyRed Offline

Registered: 03/02/03
Posts: 104
I surely don't know the answer, but I have dibs on the first reply to your thread.......

#102692 - 05/07/03 04:20 AM Re: Dibs
Capfka Offline

Registered: 06/28/02
Posts: 1624
Loc: Utter Placebo, Planet Reebok
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 06:23 AM Re: Dibs
Faldage Offline
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Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
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 09:03 AM Re: Dibs
belligerentyouth Offline
old hand

Registered: 12/20/00
Posts: 1055
Loc: Berlin
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':

#102695 - 05/07/03 09:05 AM Re: Dibs
Faldage Offline
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Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
I wan't pickin no nit. I was just askin, loike.

#102696 - 05/07/03 09:21 AM Re: Dibs
wwh Offline
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Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
I haven't heard "dibs" since early 1920s. Word-Detective cannot add much:

#102697 - 05/07/03 09:44 AM Re: Dibs
Bean Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 1156
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 09:55 AM Re: Dibs
Wordwind Offline
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Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
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 10:07 AM Re: Dibs
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
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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