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Re: I call Dibbs

Posted by Smokey Stover on July 02, 2007

In Reply to: Re: I call Dibbs posted by ESC on July 02, 2007

: : Does anyone know the origin for "I call Dibbs"?

: It is "dibs" -- short for dibstone jacks (whatever that is). See

: http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dibs

Dibs is used in two senses. One is the children's game using pebbles or the knuckle-bones of sheep (attested 1730), dibs being a shortening of dibstones.

The other, the one you want, is the "colloq. U.S." expression asserting first claim to something. The OED calls it a children's word and gives this example (inter alia): "1932 Amer. Speech VII. 401 Dibs, interj., an interjection giving option on first chance or place. 'Dibs on that magazine when you're through.' 'Dibs on going with the team if there's room.'"

The OED points out the resemblance of this second meaning of dibs to the 19th-century British use of the word "bags," or the expression "bags I" to assert a similar claim. It also gives a description of the use of dub as a shortening of double in the British way of playing marbles, which came to have a different meaning in U.S. marbles, asserting the right to play again.
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