Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Dibs On This Word!

Toy cars: the source of countless dibs claims between brothers
(photo by Ronelle)


Interjection & noun. N.American. Mid-20th century.
[Probably related to DUBS interjection & noun.]

(Demanding) a first claim or option. (Followed by on)

Growing up in Britain, the phrase de rigueur to stake first claim on something was bagsy, as in: "Bagsy this seat!" or "Bagsy first go!" This is a 1950s corruption of bags I, as in "I bag this." In North America, the equivalent expression is dibs, as in: "I call dibs on this!" Different dictionaries give different explanations as to its origin, with some suggesting it's related to dubsdab or division, while other saying it's from dibstones, a playground game since antiquity. Whatever the truth, no one seems to have first dibs on a verifiable etymology, and the legal standing of calling dibs or bagsy has (to the best of my knowledge) never been tested in a court of law.

Do you call dibs, bagsy or something else when staking your claim on something?

Do please bag a comment below.


  1. We don't have a term such as dibs... First time I read it in English I had to look for its meaning because I had no idea what they were talking about... then I found the "calling dibs" idea hilarious, though childish as only a child would believe it would have power :).

    1. What!? No! Bagsying something or calling dibs is very, very serious - it's a hallowed rule that cannot be broken! : o )

    2. I stand corrected by the Master :))