Meaning | Synonyms
- an expert or skilled person
- adept at
- one skilful at
- a person who is an expert at a particular activity
- someone incredibly skilled at a task
The noun phrase a dab hand is usually followed by “at.”
- Sophia is a dab hand at cooking.
- Try one spoon of this pasta, and you’ll agree she is a dab hand at making great Italian foods.
- Max is a dab hand in the kitchen and certainly knows his way around an oven and, as a chef.
- George is a dab hand at tennis. He always in this game.
- Barbara is a dab hand at chopping onions fast and without tears.
- We have required an experienced mechanic who is a dab hand at engine repairing for our new car garage.
- Practice makes it perfect. Keep practising, and you will be a dab hand at playing the guitar one day.
- Amanda has proved once again she’s a dab hand in the kitchen.
- I am a dab hand in touch typing on a computer keyboard more than on a mobile phone.
- She is a dab hand with metaphors, scattering them like little surprises throughout the text.
Great Britain, [1950-60s].
Dab hand apparently originated as Yorkshire dialect pre-1800 but didn’t become widely used in Britain until the 1950s, according to the Google Ngram. Following a familiar pattern peaked in Britain in about 1990, while U.S. use continues to rapidly increase (though it’s still used less than half as often here as there).
The first recorded use of dab by itself in a related sense is in the Athenian Mercury of 1691:
“[Love is] such a Dab at his Bow and Arrows.”
It’s also in the Dictionary of the Canting Crew of 1698-99:
“a dab there is “an exquisite expert” in some form of roguery.”