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11 comments on this post.
  1. Steve Dunham:

    This is just wild speculation, the kind that fuels far-fetched word derivations, but could “chibbles” have been a misspelling or alternative spelling or even an earlier spelling of “kibbles”?

  2. KarenK:

    I had a teacher once who referred to such small debris as “shnibbles”, and I picked up the term from him.

  3. The Holg:

    “Shnibbles” reminds me of German “schnibbeln” or “schnippeln” (both variants exist), meaning “to cut” (especially quickly and/or finely) and probably related to English “snip”. “Shnibbles” might be derived from the German word, via Yiddish perhaps.

    A transition “shnibbles” – “shibbles” – “chibbles” wouldn’t seem too far-fetched to me.

  4. The Holg:

    Addition: “Schnippel” or “Schnipsel” as a noun can be a small, cut-off piece of anything, especially paper, in German.

  5. meike:

    Shnibbles seems to be a logical root to me in case James mom was influenced by German immigrants, bringing their native words into their new language.
    In German, the word “Schnippsel” or “Schnippel” is used for small leftovers that have been cut off (mostly used relating to paper = Papierschnippsel).

  6. Rob:

    The definition that your mother gave was always what I had heard for the term. I remember it being used quite a bit in that context when I was growing up in the Boston area in the 70′s and 80′s, so there was at least during that time a somewhat widespread usage of the term with the definition meaning “small tidbits or debris”.

  7. Doris:

    My mother, born in 1903 in Columbus, Ohio, was an immaculate housekeeper and used “chibbles” referring to small bits of paper, fluff, or food spotted on the carpet. My sister and I continued its usage which is now carried on by my daughter in Spokane and daughter in New Orleans. They have passed it on to friends, so I don’t see its demise. It comes in handy! There is still a lot of small spillage!

  8. Doris:

    Who does the “moderation”?

  9. Michael Tweed:

    The word Chibble refers to the removing of small pieces of a material such as wood. If you were using a knife or chisel to reshape a piece of wood or similar material you would ‘chibble away’ until you had achieved your objective.

  10. Barbara James:

    Find this discussion fascinating – I come from a village in Devon, UK and one of our favourite summer teatime treats (in the 60′s/70′s) was a mixed salad served with chibbles – thinly sliced spring onions left to soak for a few hours in slightly diluted malt vinegar with a sprinkling of sugar. The fact that chibble seems to have meant a spring onion at some time in the US sort of completes a circle given that many folk from the West Country were among the early settlers in the US.

  11. Russell Bragg:

    Found in a 1987 academic paper by a Peter J. Scott, Dept. of Biology, Memorial University of Newfoundland (Canada) titled ‘COMMON NAMES OF PLANTS IN NEWFOUNDLAND’: “Chibbles and Chipps – Allium schoenoprasum L. [Chives]. In England, onions are called ‘Chibbals’ and in Devon a small onion is called a ‘Chipple’”, reference said to be taken from Britten, J., and R. Holland. 1886. A Dictionary of English Plant Names. Trubner & Co., London.

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