Dibs and calling dibs

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Dibs is a word used when laying claim to something. Calling dibs on something is an assertion of one’s rights. The idea of dibs, calling dibs or calling first dibs goes back to an eighteenth century children’s game called dibstones. Dibstones was a game akin to jacks, played with sheep knuckles. Children would announce “Dibs!” as they picked up each sheep knuckle, or called dibs. Eventually the term grew to include any instance when someone laid claim to something or asserted his right to possess it. For a time, dibs also referred to money.


Colorado called dibs on Stegosaurus and fairly so, since the plate-backed dinosaur was first found there. (The Atlantic Magazine)

Dennis met her first and sort of called “dibs” on her (as if it’s possible to do such a thing to a human being) and gets mad when Chip not only goes for her but also actively dissembles against Dennis having a shot with her. (The Guardian)

Residents who called dibs said they were aware what they were doing was technically wrong, but argued it was an issue of labor, supply and demand. (The Wall Street Journal)

Almarai Co. bought land in January that roughly doubled its holdings in California’s Palo Verde Valley, an area that enjoys first dibs on water from the Colorado River. (The Los Angeles Times)

SUCH was the impact of England’s win in Germany that England that the players on show in Berlin – bar Wayne Rooney – will undoubtedly have first dibs against Russia on June 11. (The Sun)

But perhaps the point is that Premier’s capital structure is so heavily geared by its liabilities that equity holders rank a poor third in any payout with pension fund trustees insisting on first dibs. (The Financial Times)