Dab Hand

What does dab hand mean?

An expert

Someone who is a dab hand at something is an expert at that activity. For example, LeBron James is a dab hand at basketball, Bob Vila is a dab hand at home repair, and Agatha Christie was a dab hand at writing mysteries.

Where did dab hand originate?

Dab hand is a British term that was coined in the nineteenth century. Prior to dab hand's existence, experts were sometimes referred to as just dabs. For example, in the 1698-99 Dictionary of the Canting Crew, the word dab was used to mean "an exquisite expert."

However, no one is sure where the term dab came from. It may be related to the verb dab (which originally meant "to give somebody a sharp blow" before acquiring its current, softer meaning) or it may be an offshoot of the word adept.

Is dab hand used outside Britain?

Yes, but not frequently. Though the rise of the Internet, social media, and British baking shows has added dab hand to some other people's lexicons, don't be surprised if non-Anglophiles don't know what dab hand means.

Example

"Kelly really is quite the dab hand at bowling. I've never seen her score less than 210."
A use of dab hand on Twitter

A use of dab hand on Twitter

Related Slang

Usage

Last Updated: May 25, 2021

Dab hand definition

This page explains what the slang term "Dab hand" means. The definition, example, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the Slangit team.

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