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A nesting dove with squabs
Squab (young pigeon) leg and breast


Unknown, unattested before 17th c.. Possibly descended from Swedish dialect skvabb (fatty, flabby).



squab (plural squabs)

  1. (sometimes attributive) A baby pigeon, dove, or chicken.
  2. The meat of such a baby bird used as food.
  3. A baby rook.
  4. A thick cushion, especially a flat one covering the seat of a chair or sofa.
    • a. 1744, Alexander Pope (imitating Earl of Dorset), Artemisia, 1795, Robert Anderson (editor), A Complete Edition of the Poets of Great Britain, page 86,
      On her large ſquab you find her ſpread, / Like a fat corpſe upon a bed, / That lies and ſtinks in ſtate.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Charles Dickens
      Punching the squab of chairs and sofas.
  5. A person of a short, fat figure.
    • a. 1800, William Cowper, The Progress of Error, 1824, Poems of William Cowper, Esq, page 28,
      Gorgonius sits abdominous and wan, / Like a fat squab upon a Chinese fan:


  • (baby pigeon): piper, squeaker, pigeon chick, young pigeon, baby dove
  • (baby rook): rook chick, young rook



squab (third-person singular simple present squabs, present participle squabbing, simple past and past participle squabbed)

  1. (obsolete) To fall plump; to strike at one dash, or with a heavy stroke.
  2. (transitive) To furnish with squabs, or cushions.
  3. (transitive) To stuff thickly and sew through, the stitches being concealed by buttons, etc.


squab (comparative more squab, superlative most squab)

  1. Fat; thick; plump; bulky.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Betterton
      Nor the squab daughter nor the wife were nice.
  2. Unfledged; unfeathered.
    a squab pigeon
    (Can we find and add a quotation of King to this entry?)
  3. Clumsy.
  4. Curt; abrupt.
  5. Shy; coy.


squab (not comparable)

  1. (slang) With a heavy fall; plump.
    • (Can we date this quote?) L'Estrange
      The eagle took the tortoise up into the air, and dropped him down, squab, upon a rock.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for squab in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)