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From Middle English riban, ryban, ryband, from Old French riban, ruban ( > modern French ruban), of uncertain origin. Likely from a Germanic compound whose second element is cognate with English band. Compare Middle Dutch ringhband (necklace, literally ring-band).


  • (file)
  • IPA(key): /ˈɹɪbən/
  • Rhymes: -ɪbən


ribbon (plural ribbons)

  1. A long, narrow strip of material used for decoration of clothing or the hair or gift wrapping.
  2. An inked strip of material against which type is pressed to print letters in a typewriter or printer.
  3. A narrow strip or shred.
    a steel or magnesium ribbon
    sails torn to ribbons
  4. (shipbuilding) Alternative form of ribband
  5. (slang, dated, in the plural) reins for a horse.
    • 1887, James Inglis, Our New Zealand Cousins
      "Here, sir, hold the ribbons." This to me, throwing me the reins. Jack got down from his perch, and after a little search in the bush was rewarded by the capture of the poor dazed pigeon, who was consigned to safe custody in the boot.
  6. (heraldry) A bearing similar to the bend, but only one eighth as wide.
  7. (spinning) A sliver.
  8. (computing, graphical user interface) A toolbar that incorporates tabs and menus.
  9. (cooking) In ice cream and similar confections, an ingredient (often chocolate, butterscotch, caramel, or fudge) added in a long narrow strip.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

See alsoEdit


ribbon (third-person singular simple present ribbons, present participle ribboning, simple past and past participle ribboned)

  1. (transitive) To decorate with ribbon.
    Synonym: beribbon
  2. (transitive) To stripe or streak.