First attested in Scottish English (compare Scots stob, stobbe, stabb (“a pointed stick or stake; a thrust with a pointed weapon”)), from Middle English stabbe (“a stab”), probably a variant of Middle English stob, stub, stubbe (“pointed stick, stake, thorn, stub, stump”), from Old Norse stobbi, stubbi or Old English stybb. Cognate with Middle Dutch stobbe.
stab (plural stabs)
- An act of stabbing or thrusting with an object.
- A wound made by stabbing.
- Pain inflicted on a person's feelings.
- (informal) An attempt.
- I'll give this thankless task a stab.
- (music) A single staccato chord that adds dramatic impact to a composition.
- a horn stab
- A bacterial culture made by inoculating a solid medium, such as gelatin, with the puncture of a needle or wire.
- (transitive) To pierce or to wound (somebody) with a pointed tool or weapon, especially a knife or dagger.
1905, Baroness Emmuska Orczy, chapter 1, The Tremarn Case:
- “There the cause of death was soon ascertained ; the victim of this daring outrage had been stabbed to death from ear to ear with a long, sharp instrument, in shape like an antique stiletto, which […] was subsequently found under the cushions of the hansom. […]”
- If you stab him in the heart he won't live long enough to retaliate.
- (transitive) To thrust in a stabbing motion.
- to stab a dagger into a person
- (intransitive) To recklessly hit with the tip of a pointed object, such as a weapon or finger (often used with at).
- John Dryden
- None shall dare / With shortened sword to stab in closer war.
- He stabbed at my face with the twig but luckily kept missing my eyes.
- John Dryden
- (intransitive) To cause a sharp, painful sensation (often used with at).
- The snow from the blizzard was stabbing at my face as I skied down the mountain.
- (transitive, figuratively) To injure secretly or by malicious falsehood or slander.
- to stab a person's reputation
- a staff