noun, plural tab·bies.
- a cat with a striped or brindled coat.
- a domestic cat, especially a female one.
- a spinster.
- a spiteful female gossip or tattler.
- plain weave.
- a watered silk fabric, or any other watered material, as moreen.
- striped or brindled.
- made of or resembling tabby.
verb (used with object), tab·bied, tab·by·ing.
- to give a wavy or watered appearance to, as silk.
- (in the southeastern U.S.) a building material composed of ground oyster shells, lime, and sand, mixed with salt water.
- a fabric with a watered pattern, esp silk or taffeta
- (esp of cats) brindled with dark stripes or wavy markings on a lighter background
- having a wavy or striped pattern, particularly in colours of grey and brown
noun plural -bies
- a tabby cat
- any female domestic cat
- British informal a gossiping old woman
- Australian slang any girl or woman
n.1630s, “striped silk taffeta,” from French tabis “a rich, watered silk (originally striped),” from Middle French atabis (14c.), from Arabic ‘attabiya, from ‘Attabiy, a neighborhood of Baghdad where such cloth was first made, named for prince ‘Attab of the Omayyad dynasty. Tabby cat, one with a striped coat, is attested from 1690s; shortened form tabby first attested 1774. Sense of “female cat” (1826) may be influenced by the fem. proper name Tabby, a pet form of Tabitha, which was used in late 18c. as slang for “difficult old woman.”