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A nesting dove with squabs
Squab (young pigeon) leg and breast


Unknown, unattested before 17th c.. Possibly descended from Swedish dialect skvabb (fatty, flabby).



squab (plural squabs)

  1. (sometimes attributive) A baby pigeon, dove, or chicken.
  2. The meat of such a baby bird used as food.
  3. A baby rook.
  4. A thick cushion, especially a flat one covering the seat of a chair or sofa.
    • a. 1744, Alexander Pope (imitating Earl of Dorset), Artemisia, 1795, Robert Anderson (editor), A Complete Edition of the Poets of Great Britain, page 86,
      On her large ſquab you find her ſpread, / Like a fat corpſe upon a bed, / That lies and ſtinks in ſtate.
    • 1846 October 1 – 1848 April 1, Charles Dickens, “Retribution”, in Dombey and Son, London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1848, →OCLC, page 591:
      [H]erds of shabby vampires, Jew and Christian, over-run the house, [...] punching the squabs of chairs and sofas with their dirty fists, touzling the feather-beds, opening and shutting all the drawers, balancing the silver spoons and forks, looking into the very threads of the drapery and linen, and disparaging everything.
  5. A person of a short, fat figure.
    • a. 1800, William Cowper, The Progress of Error, 1824, Poems of William Cowper, Esq, page 28,
      Gorgonius sits abdominous and wan, / Like a fat squab upon a Chinese fan:


  • (baby pigeon): piper, squeaker, pigeon chick, young pigeon, baby dove
  • (baby rook): rook chick, young rook



squab (third-person singular simple present squabs, present participle squabbing, simple past and past participle squabbed)

  1. (obsolete) To fall plump; to strike at one dash, or with a heavy stroke.
  2. (transitive) To furnish with squabs, or cushions.
  3. (transitive) To stuff thickly and sew through, the stitches being concealed by buttons, etc.


squab (comparative more squab, superlative most squab)

  1. Fat; thick; plump; bulky.
    • 1712, Thomas Betterton, The Miller of Trompington:
      Nor the squab daughter nor the wife were nice.
    • 1789, Erasmus Darwin, The Loves of the Plants, J. Johnson, page 93:
      So on his Nɪɢʜᴛᴍᴀʀᴇ through the evening fog / Flits the squab fiend o'er fen, and lake, and bog [] .
  2. Unfledged; unfeathered.
    • 1836, Richard King, Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Arctic Ocean:
      broken limbs of trees, eggs, and young squab pigeons precipitated from above
  3. Clumsy.
  4. Curt; abrupt.
  5. Shy; coy.


squab (not comparable)

  1. (slang) With a heavy fall; plump.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for “squab”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.)