To call dibbs (dibs) - bags?

Thomas Tompion

Member Emeritus
English - England
In this thread, this morning, a Canadian member used the expression to call dibbs, which was new to me, and not mentioned in the WR dictionary. The Urban Dictionary has a definition of it:

When called "dibbs" it is usually refered to a car seat shotgun or anything else in witch you might want. After calling "dibbs" on something you take possetion, or use it for that one time that you have called "dibbs".
Example: you and a friend/sibling are eating pizza and there is one slice left so you yell "dibbs on last slice" this would give you possetion of the last slice.

I've not tampered with the rococo spelling and punctuation.

I've not heard this expression in BE, though the word 'dibbs' is used in some BE school slangs to mean money. I was struck at the association of the word with shotgun, the word being discussed in the WR thread, though the Urban Dictionary contributor goes on to generalize the term. Does dibbs mean money in this AE expression? or is it the AE equivalent of the BE schoolchildren's expression 'to bags something', as in 'I bags the next free seat'?
 
  • cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    or is it the AE equivalent of the BE schoolchildren's expression 'to bags something', as in 'I bags the next free seat'?
    I've never heard this use of bags, but it sounds like a good parallel to the use of dibs/dibbs in AE. I haven't heard "I've got dibbs on it!" in decades. I wonder if younger AE speakers still use it.


    Edit: Random House Unabridged is aware of it!

    dibs:

    2. rights; claims: I have dibs on the car when Jimmy brings it back. Origin:
    1720–30; shortening of earlier dibstones a children's game; see dib.
     
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    Trisia

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    I learnt "dibs" from a bunch of very young (14-20 year-old) AE speakers -- we were discussing who was to get the prizes in an online game and someone called dibs on the cat (which was what I wanted!).

    I've only ever seen it spelled as "dibs" though, and Wikipedia and Dictionary.com (1. money in small amounts. 2. rights; claims: I have dibs on the car when Jimmy brings it back.) agree with the one "b" version.

    In fact, Wiki mentions "bags" which was very new to me.
     
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    Basil Ganglia

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    It appears to me that "bags" must be the same as "dibbs".

    When I was a boy, "I call dibbs on shotgun" was a common expression when heading to a car, meaning "I claim the passenger side front seat."

    "Dibbs" could also apply to almost anything. "I call dibbs on the last slice of pizza."

    ++++

    But I've never heard it used negatively - I don't think there's a concept of "no dibbs".
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    It has made its way across the puddle, at least for lexicographers. The Compact OED
    has it.


    dibs


    plural noun informal (often in phrase have first dibs) N. Amer. the right to share or choose something.
    — ORIGIN originally denoting pebbles used in a children’s game, from earlier dib-stones.
     
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    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The OED entry for dib includes:
    A children's word used to express a claim or option on some object (freq. int.); chiefly in phr. to get (etc.) dibs on (something), to have first claim to. Cf. BAGS I, DUBS. U.S. colloq.
    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.’
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Member Emeritus
    English - England
    Here's quite an interesting discussion of the expression.

    The phrase "first dibs" appeared fully formed in American literature around the turn of the 20th century. British children were said to use the term "bags" interchangeably with "dibs" during the late 19th century.

    I was particularly struck by the suggestion that the BE use of dibs in school slang to mean money is ancient.

    It is believed that the word dibs was used informally in the 1800s to describe a basic currency, such as a dollar or pound. Although this use of the word dibs is now considered archaic, it would not have been unusual for an 19th century citizen to hope for a million dibs in the bank.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I'm fairly certainish that I've heard little Britfolk using dibs where I would've used bags. (It was usually bagsy for me, actually: Bagsy I get the front seat.) I've never heard dibs used to mean 'money' ... I'm obviously not that ancient.
     

    Adge

    Senior Member
    USA- English (Southern)
    But I've never heard it used negatively - I don't think there's a concept of "no dibbs".

    We always used shotgun for the negative version- "Shotgun not it" and then everyone else chimes in "Not it!" until there's one lucky loser left who hasn't spoken.
    I've also never called "dibs" on shotgun, which it seems a number of other posters have mentioned. We just called "Shotgun!" I have used "dibs" for just about everything else though. :D
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I'm fairly certainish that I've heard little Britfolk using dibs where I would've used bags. (It was usually bagsy for me, actually: Bagsy I get the front seat.) I've never heard dibs used to mean 'money' ... I'm obviously not that ancient.
    "Bags" is a peculiar word.
    As well as the constructions ewie has listed, and the other examples above:
    I bags the front seat.
    Bags I the front seat.
    I bagsed the front seat.

    From the OED:
    1914 Concise Oxf. Dict. Add. 1045/2 Bag, (also, in school slang) claim on the ground of being the first to claim (I b., but usu. bags I or bags, first innings!).
    This appears in entry 6b for bag (verb):
    6. colloq. a. To seize, catch, take possession of, steal. To add to one's ‘bag’ ...
    6b. To claim; reserve.
    ... which in turn is based on this entry for bag (noun):
    9. Sporting. = Game-bag; hence, the contents of a game-bag, the quantity of fish or game however large (embracing e.g. elephants and buffaloes) killed at one time; the produce of a hunting, fishing, or shooting expedition.
     

    out2lnch

    Senior Member
    English-Canada
    We always used shotgun for the negative version- "Shotgun not it" and then everyone else chimes in "Not it!" until there's one lucky loser left who hasn't spoken.
    I've also never called "dibs" on shotgun, which it seems a number of other posters have mentioned. We just called "Shotgun!" I have used "dibs" for just about everything else though. :D

    Same here. Growing up, we would call shotgun, without the dibs. In fact, I still would, apparently never having outgrown it.

    I still use dibs and so do others; it's completely commonplace. Also, I've never heard bags until I read this thread.
     

    xqby

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    I haven't heard "I've got dibbs on it!" in decades. I wonder if younger AE speakers still use it.

    I'm more used to its use as a noun to describe who called dibs rather than to do so; Panj's definition of it as an interjection seems about right to me.
    "Dibs on next."
    "I already called dibs on the next game."

    I can't think of when I've used "dibs" in the past few years though, so it's either waning in popularity or used mostly by children--I find the second explanation more plausible.
     
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