First Dibs: Do You Know What this Term Means?

If you have ever heard someone use the term ‘first dibs’ you may have wondered what it meant. We are going to look at the meaning of this term and how we can use it in conversation. We will also look at the history of the phrase and where it originated from.

First Dibs

First Dibs Meaning

When someone says ‘first dibs’ they are referring to someone being granted first refusal or the first choice of something. It also means that someone is saying that they claim the first right to something.

Origin of the idiom

The saying ‘first dibs’ originally came from the early 1900s. It was derived from a children’s game called dibstones. The word ‘dibs’ dates back to the 1700s and meant to claim something, hence the name dibstones, in which players had to call and claim the stones.

Other Ways to Say the Phrase

There are other ways in which you could express the meaning of the idiomatic phrase ‘first dibs.’

Here are some examples of things you could say.

  • Pick of the litter
  • Have the first choice
  • Top choice
  • First pick
  • First selection

“First Dibs” Examples

Examples in Statements

A person laying claim to something is shown in this example.

  • ‘I’m calling first dibs on the front seat.’

This statement shows someone being given the first choice of something.

  • ‘Sandra has first dibs on the sandwiches as she’s fussy about what she eats.’

Conversation Examples

You might be wondering how the phrase ‘first dibs’ fits into a conversation, so here are some examples of how it might work.

The first conversation shows two people talking about giving someone their first refusal on seating.

  • Person 1: “How many people are coming over for book club?”
  • Person 2: “There’s six altogether but we only have five chairs.”
  • Person 1: “Well, in that case, Emma should have first dibs on where to sit because of her bad hip.”

This conversation shows someone claiming their preferred choice.

  • Person 1: “Ooh look, mom has brought lots of sweets.”
  • Person 2: “I call first dibs on the gummy bears, they’re my favourite.

When to Use the Idiom “First Dibs” | Image

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