drab

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dribs and drabs

Insignificant, skimpy, and/or piecemeal amounts. A: "Have you been able to get any work lately?" B: "Just some dribs and drabs to keep me ticking along, but nothing substantial."
See also: and, drab, drib

in dribs and drabs

Periodically in very small amounts; bit by bit. Information was relayed to us in dribs and drabs, but it was hours before we got the whole story of what had happened. The return on your investment will come in dribs and drabs at first, but you'll see a more steady flow of income later.
See also: and, drab, drib
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

in dribs and drabs

in small portions; bit by bit. I'll have to pay you what I owe you in dribs and drabs. The whole story is being revealed in dribs and drabs.
See also: and, drab, drib
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

dribs and drabs

Bits and pieces, negligible amounts, as in There's not much left, just some dribs and drabs of samples. The noun drib is thought to be a shortening of driblet, for "drop" or "tiny quantity," dating from the early 1700s, whereas drab meaning "a small sum of money" dates from the early 1800s.
See also: and, drab, drib
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

in ˌdribs and ˈdrabs

(informal) in small amounts or numbers: People started arriving in dribs and drabs from nine o’clock onwards.He paid back the money in dribs and drabs.
See also: and, drab, drib
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

in dribs and drabs

mod. in small portions; bit by bit. I’ll have to pay you what I owe you in dribs and drabs.
See also: and, drab, drib
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

dribs and drabs

Small quantities. This phrase, dating from the early nineteenth century, consists of nouns that rarely appear elsewhere. Drib, originating in the early 1700s, probably alludes to “dribble” or “trickle”; drab has meant a petty sum of money since the early 1800s.
See also: and, drab, drib
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
But his individualism is drabber, more calculating, more utilitarian; he has neither the splendour nor the bitterness of the Renaissance.
In his work and in his bearing, Anthony was an authentic stylist, the field of Sepik studies is a drabber place without him.
Males that ingest red pigments grow bright red plumage, whereas those that ingest mostly yellow or orange pigments molt drabber plumage (Brush and Power 1976; Hill 1992).
The Dani people of New Guinea, the subjects of Dead Birds, lived a nearly Stone Age existence, and yet he found in this remote group of indigenous people common ground: "They dressed their lives with plumage, but faced as certain death as the rest of us drabber souls." With this work came the early realization that he was no longer engaged in the practice of social science, nor was he committed to making ethical judgments or to earnestly using the medium as a means to "improve the human lot." He was a filmmaker.
And, although albino creatures are often more easily hunted by predators than their drabber counterparts, the Guisborough white squirrels are doing just fine.
I feel sorry for kids these days; they have to make do with a much drabber version in spite, or maybe because, of all they have..I was a country child and the seasons had such clear edges then that it was possible to smell them in the air
'It would make the country a drabber, greyer, bleaker place.
But the European Championships will certainly be a drabber affair from the home nations' point of view without the colourful support of the Scots, Welsh and Irish!
Unfolding under almost uniformly drab skies and in even drabber rooms, Plath's life is painted in uniformly dreary shades of emotional angst and domestic distress, as if the filmmakers felt the need to give a rigidly deterministic reading to Plath's life journey.
In some species, the males molt out of their dazzling breeding plumage into drabber feathers.
FORMER Big Brother star Glyn Wise reckons this year's contestants are drabber than the colourful characters he had to live with.
The ArcLight, located next to Pacific's well-known Cinerama Dome monoscreen, sits on a drabber stretch of Sunset Boulevard.
But James's few pictures of the grander parts of town (e.g., L'Opera, Rue Auber, [9.sup.eme] feel emptiest of all, deprived as they are of even the uneasy dreams that seem to haunt the sleepy mornings of the drabber arrondissements.