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The term quibble is in the German language in general, a derogatory term for a behavior of people that only the literal interpretation allowed by spoken or written words, texts or words.


Quibbling is the intentional or unintentional one-sided and petty interpretation of terms, texts and words, through which their meaning is reduced to their original meaning. Quibbling about words usually ignores, through narrow-minded, pedantic thinking, the naturalized use of terms in common linguistic usage or their meaning resulting in a certain context (see also syntax ). For example, the word " knotless " is a term from the carpentry trade and originally referred to high-quality planks or boards . In today's colloquial language, however, the word is rarely used in connection with objects made of wood , but is used to express that something or someone is “okay” or “very good”. Word stealers would use the metaphorical , i.e. H. to deny or not to perceive (want to) in the figurative sense of the word.

In extreme cases, quibbles can be repulsive and offensive.


The boundaries and transitions between clear, precise interpretation of terms, texts and words and one-sided pedantic “sticking to the letter” can be fluid and not always clearly definable. Word quibbles can also express irony and sarcasm . Word quibbling is also used as a stylistic means, for example in word games .

Terms with a similar meaning are " splitting hairs ", " nit-picking ", " squabbling ", " pedantry ", " subtlety " and " verbosity ". What they have in common is the derogatory use to denote one-sided exaggerated views or behaviors that many people perceive as disturbing or ridiculous.


The word klauben developed from the Middle High German word klüben , the Old High German klübon and the Middle Low German klüven around the 18th century to the combination of word hackers or word clubbing . The original meaning of pick is taken as “working on something with your fingertips, nails, or teeth; free from the shell or shell, pluck, read, separate, search out with difficulty ”. The term quibbling was derived from this, which in a figurative sense means “petty, pedantic, complaining treatment of a word or of words in general”.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: word quibble  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary:  Word stealers - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. "scrupulousness in the use of speech" - German Dictionary by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm
  2. DUDEN. The dictionary of origin. The etymology of the German language. Bibliographisches Institut, Mannheim 1963, ISBN 3-411-00907-1 , p. 330.
  3. quibbling. In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 30 : WilbHyssop - (XIV, 2nd section). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1960 ( woerterbuchnetz.de ).