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Etymology 1[edit]

Middle English bikeren ‘to attack’, from Middle Dutch bicken ‘to stab, attack’ (modern bikken ‘to hack’), from Proto-Germanic *bikjaną (compare Old English becca ‘pickax’, German picken ‘to peck, pick at’, Old Norse bikkja ‘to plunge into water’), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰeg- ‘to smash, break’.


bicker (third-person singular simple present bickers, present participle bickering, simple past and past participle bickered)

  1. To quarrel in a tiresome, insulting manner.
    They bickered about dinner every evening.
    • Barrow
      petty things about which men cark and bicker
  2. To brawl or move tremulously, quiver, shimmer (of a water stream, light, flame, etc.)
    • XIX cent, The Brook, by Tennyson
      I come from haunts of coot and hern, / I make a sudden sally, / And sparkle out among the fern, / To bicker down a valley.
    • Thomson
      They [streamlets] bickered through the sunny shade.
  3. (of rain) To patter.
  4. To skirmish; to exchange blows; to fight.
    • Holland
      Two eagles had a conflict, and bickered together.
Derived terms[edit]


bicker (plural bickers)

  1. A skirmish; an encounter.
  2. (Scotland, obsolete) A fight with stones between two parties of boys.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Jamieson to this entry?)
  3. A wrangle; also, a noise, as in angry contention.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Scots bicker, from Middle English biker (compare beaker).


bicker (plural bickers)

  1. (Scotland) A wooden drinking-cup or other dish.
    • 1824, James Hogg, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, Oxford 2010, p. 6:
      …the liquors were handed around in great fulness, the ale in large wooden bickers, and the brandy in capacious horns of oxen.

Further reading[edit]