How to Properly Use The Word “Quibble” In A Sentence

how to use quibble in a sentence

At some point in time, we have all disagreed with something being said, and since we are only human, the best way to process is to tell a friend. But have you ever told your friends you had a “quibble” with someone?

The appropriate way to use the word “quibble” in a sentence is when speaking of a mild objection, a difference of opinion, or disagreement. So, this is a word that can be easily incorporated into our daily speech since we are not bound to always agree with everyone.

Meaning And Origin Of The Word “Quibble”

Before getting to the details of the meaning of the word and its origin, you should know that the word “quibble” can be used both as a verb and as a noun. The meaning of “quibble” is an objection or criticism. This objection is usually a minor one. Also, it means to be evasive in an argument or conversation, shifting from the original point of the discussion. 

arguing fingers

The root of “quibble,” as we know it, comes from the English “quib” it was first introduced in the 17th century. However, the original root, as this comes as no surprise at all, is in the Latin word “qui,” which means “who.” Despite the correlation in origin between “quibble” and its originators, the meaning, at least when thinking of “qui,” is remote. This is because “qui” was used more in legal documents, referring to the person in such a document, and “quib” to refer to a difference in opinions among people.

Actually, a “quib” was an argument that could have turned into a fight, but because one of the parties decided on looking the other way or evaded the main topic of the conversation, it resulted in nothing more than a strong exchange of words. 

A quibble, nowadays, is a disagreement or a minor objection about something that is non-essential, not important enough to fight about.

A more formal fact about the origin of the word “quibble” is that initially, the noun form was used first in 1650, and fifteen years later then the verb form started to be used in speech and writing.

Synonyms Of Quibble

Now that we have learned the meaning and origin of “quibble,” you are probably wondering, are there other ways to say the same thing? The answer is yes. Fortunately, quibble is not as commonly used, but it does share a common meaning with many other verbs and nouns.

Here are a few of those in the verb form:

  • Bicker
  • Argue
  • Disagree
  • Quarrel
  • Spar
  • Spat
  • Altercate
  • Dispute

Here are a few more in the noun form:

  • Hair-splitter
  • Equivocation
  • Duplicity
  • Evasion
  • Niggle
  • Protest
  • Nit-picker
  • Dodge

Looking at these lists, one can only wonder how much time we spend disagreeing with each other to have come up with some many equivalents for this! We don’t need to agree or disagree on this one, so let’s move on.

Antonyms Of Quibble

A word with so many similarities with others is bound to have more than one counterpart, and this is true for “quibble.” Since it essentially means to disagree, here are some more agreeable antonyms for you: 

  • Comply
  • Agree
  • Consent
  • Give in
  • Endorse
  • Commend
  • Support 
  • Applaud
  • Praise
  • Approve

this way that way wooden sign

Difference Between Quibble and Argue

Considering the number of verbs that are also nouns, some are completely identical or borderline the same. We find the word “argue.” And since we have said here that a “quibble” is a form of argument, you may have thought these two are the same; however, they are not. 

To “argue” is to prove that something is as we say it is. It is heated, but it is usually objective and connected to facts. To “quibble,” therefore, is to complain and argue in a trivial way about something that has no importance. It is an argument that is petty, usually lacking proper reason and purpose. 

Difference Between Quibble and Squabble

When we hear “squabble,” it might sound related to “quibble,” and in a way, it is. But we will use “squabble” when talking about children and how they argue senselessly between themselves, like who gets to play with what or who can eat what. So, it refers to childish behavior. 

“Quibble,” on the other hand, is an argument, among adults, about a point of view so insignificant that it can not be considered important. 

The Use Of The Word “Quibble” In Theater And Writing

If you have ever read Fantasy and Science Fiction books or short stories, especially thinking of the sort of story you could find reading the Grimm Brothers and Shakespeare, you have already experienced what a “quibble” is when used as a literary resource or plot device. 

Let’s look at the plot of Sleeping Beauty. A king and queen who could not have children, but they were blessed and had a daughter. There was an event where all the fairies of the kingdom were invited to offer their blessings and cast protective spells on the newborn child. All were invited except a very old one that was not liked in the kingdom.  

The old fairy learns of this and shows up, casts a curse over the princess so she would die at the age of fifteen after stabbing herself with a spindle. One of the good fairies that had not cast her spell, cast it to ease the curse set by the previous fairy. 

As a result, the princess will not die when she turns fifteen, she would fall in a deep sleep for one hundred years, and the “quibble” here is that only true love’s kiss can wake her from this slumber. 

Quibbles are also used in legal bargains, for example, when there is a loophole in a contract or agreement that could liberate the person signing from any responsibility or do exactly the opposite and compromise them more. Especially when the bargain takes place in a book, play, or short story, there is always a magical component that binds it, which is the “quibble” in the bargain.

happy sad faces theather

How To Use “Quibble” In A Sentence

This is why you are reading, so the correct way to use “quibble” will depend on two things. If you are using “quibble” as a verb, or is it being used as a noun. Let’s remember, verbs give action to the subject of a sentence while nouns are the subject of the sentence. 

So, if you are going to use “quibble” as a verb, keep in mind it is an intransitive verb. This means you can use it without necessarily referring to an object or subject.

For example: Do not quibble; just move on!

 Now, if you are going to use “quibble” in its noun form, you will need to attach it to an object, and it will not refer to an action. 

For example: The contract we signed seems free from quibble.

Some More Examples Of The Word “Quibble” In A Sentence 

  • There is always a quibble going on with these two!
  • It is not worth the quibble over little things. It is best to move on and let go.
  • Sometimes they are competitive over such insignificant things. It is more a quibble than a serious argument.
  • I only watch political debates for the quibble, politicians look like toddlers when they argue, and I find that very amusing.
  • One day I will be so wealthy I will never quibble again about money matters.
  • She decided not to quibble over him being later and just have a good time together.
  • My brother and I always quibbled about who got to be player 1 when playing Mario.
  • This story reminds me of the quibble on The Merchant Of Venice.
  • Non-binary people are often labeled as male or female, and to quibble when this happens is inevitable.
  • The legal quibble on this contract had absolutely no precedent.
  • Every time I order pineapple pizza, I can’t hear the end of the quibble between my friends and me. Those who love it and those who think it is an abomination. 
  • One can’t help but drift off and imagine the sort of quibble the characters of the book will go through until they reach the end of their journey.
  • The best feature of purchasing a new tech is when it comes to a quibble proof warranty.
  • I had quite the quibble with the seller. He refused to give me my money back, and what I got was broken and not what I ordered.
  • Playing board games with my family on Sunday nights is a quibble waiting to happen, guaranteed!


After exploring the ins and outs of using the word “quibble,” it is safe to say you are ready to use it. Looking at the examples listed here should give you a good base, so when you have to write it or say it, you do so properly. 

Keep in mind that if you are using it to give action to something being said, that is the verb form of “quibble.” If you use it as the object, what is being impacted by the rest of the sentence, then it is a noun. 

When in doubt, just come back to this article, dust of the information, and you will know what to do next. So much to “quibble,” so little time.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

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