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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English bikeren (to attack), from Middle Dutch bicken (to stab, thrust, attack) +‎ -er (frequentative suffix). Middle Dutch bicken is umtilately from Proto-Germanic *bikjaną (compare Old English becca (pickax), Dutch bikken (to hack), German picken (to peck, pick at), Old Norse bikkja (to plunge into water)), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰeg- (to smash, break). Compare also German Low German bickern (to nibble, gnaw).


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.
    • (Can we date this quote by Barrow and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      petty things about which men cark and bicker
  2. To brawl or move tremulously, quiver, shimmer (of a water stream, light, flame, etc.)
    • 1886, 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.
    • (Can we date this quote by Thomson and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      They [streamlets] bickered through the sunny shade.
  3. (of rain) To patter.
  4. To skirmish; to exchange blows; to fight.
    • (Can we date this quote by Holland and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      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]