nip nibble

kaven-ever

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi!
I once saw they were used the way like this:
1: The parrot gave his thumb a nip with its beak.
2: The parrot nibbled his thumb.
(PS: I forgot the animal the author referred to, but I'm sure it's a beaky bird, so I take "parrot" for example.)
Not considering the two words' characteristics(one verb, one noun), do the two actions mean the same - bite something gently to show affection of a pet.

Thanks for any help.
 
  • irgwki

    Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    'Nip' and 'nibble', both being nouns, are synonyms as far as I know.
    I am not entirely sure about 'to nip' and 'to nibble', though, but I suspect they're also synonyms.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I understand those words differently. A 'nip' is a sudden bite that is likely to hurt.
    A 'nibble' is a small or gentle bite, that is likely to be a part of a series.

    If you want a 'nip' to be friendly, you will have to add an adjective to say so: a gentle nip, a playful nip, and so on.
     

    kaven-ever

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thanks irgwi, Cagey, so I think When a cat is contented, it would start purring and nibbling at your thumb or whatever the part is, here if I use nip, would you think it's hurt, and maybe impairs the impression of the cat's affection that I want convey to you?
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I would think the cat mean to hurt you, unless you added an adjective (a gentle nip) or adverb (nipped playfully), as I suggested above.
    If you said that it was purring and that it nipped you, I would be confused.
     
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