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Calling "dibs" is the US English term for an informal convention where one declares a first claim to something to which no one else has a clearly recognized right. Calling "dibs" is only possible when the caller is able to take care of the claim. Such a declaration is often recognized in certain cultures, or sub-cultures, as a means to avoid arguments over relatively trivial issues.
Dibs can only be called in front of the participants to be considered valid. IE Dibs cannot be called without the presence or knowledge of the other party. Dibs can however be called in online chatrooms and equivalent messaging applications, ie participants do not have to be physically present for the "dibs" to be valid.
People tend to incorrectly use "shotgun" in place of "dibs," while "shotgun" must only be used for declaring the right to ride in the seat next to the driver in any moving vehicle. In place of this incorrectly used word, "shotgun," one can use "snipe" in place of "dibs." "Snipe" is in every way similar to "dibs" but is used more often as the phrase is much shorter; one must say "i call dibs on..." while one can directly say "snipe..." just as people use "shotgun" in the inappropriate manner.
Usage and equivalent words
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In Boston, Chicago and Pittsburgh, "dibs" also refers to the practice of holding a shoveled-out parking space after a heavy snowfall by putting chairs, laundry baskets, or other items in the street to mark the claimed space.
In Guatemala the equivalent is "primas".
In Austria, the word "geschützt" is used, meaning "protected" (from others) or "kept" (for me). Especially in western Austria, the word "meins" ("it's mine") is also used.
In Argentina and Uruguay, the phrase "canté pri" ("pri" being short for "primero"), first one to ask for it, is used with this meaning by children.
In Brazil, the words "primeiro" ("the first one" in Portuguese) "meu", and "minha" ("mine" in Portuguese), are used in the same way.
In Colombia, the equivalent for dibs would be "me lo pido", which means "I ask for it".
In European Francophony, the word "prems" or "preums" (shortcut of "premier" which means "first") is commonly used for that. One might say "deuz" (shortcut of "deuxième" which means "second") to claim second on something, if someone has already claimed "preum". On the contrary, some people used to say "der" (short for "dernier", meaning "last". "Der" Comes from "dix de der", the last round of the "Belote" card game, which gave ten additional points to the winner of this last round.).
In Germany, the equivalent for dibs is "Erster" (meaning "first one") or "meins" (meaning "it's mine").
In Greece, the word "πρω" (pro), the first syllable of the word "πρώτος" (first), is used.
In Guatemala, the equivalent for dibs is "Primas" or "Voy Primas", which means "I go first" in colloquial language.
In Hungary, equivalents for dibs are "stipistop", "stip-stop" and "stipistopi". They come from the English word "stop".
In Iceland, the equivalent for dibs is "Pant", short for "Ég panta", or "I order" in English. However, the word "Dibs" is used frequently in common speech, especially among young men.
In Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, the equivalent for dibs is "choup", "chop" or simply "chup" in the countries' respective informal Melayu language. The word corresponds to the act of stamping or branding something. In calling "chup", one stakes claim by attempting to be the first to "stamp" one's name on the object.
In Iran, the equivalent for dibs is "Aval" (meaning "first").
In Ireland , bagsie is normally used.
In Israel, both dibs and shotgun are used as in American English. The Hebrew words "ראשון" (first) and "שלי" (mine) and the phrase "אני מזמין" (I order) are also used to call dibs, mostly by children.
In Italy, the equivalent for dibs is "mio" or "primo", meaning "mine" and "first", respectively. On the contrary, "ultimo" (meaning "last", mainly used in children games as last to try or to choose).
In Kosovo, the equivalent for dibs is "mos e prek - UCK" (meaning don't touch it - KLA), used after the war, meaning I have first claimed it and I am the toughest.
In Albania, "e zura" (meaning "I occupied it").
In South Korea, the equivalent for dibs is "찜" (zzim), meaning "I got that".
In Mexico, the word "pido" (I ask) or "primis" (first) is commonly used by children.
In Netherlands the equivalent for dibs is "buut" (nowadays most commonly used during hide-and-seek to call someone who has been found 'out' at the base). The word 'dibs' is gaining popularity over 'buut' in the Netherlands due to the large number of people watching American TV shows.
In Nepal, the equivalent for dibs is "Mero" or "Mine" in English; short for "Tyo mero ho" or "This is mine" in English. This is commonly used among young people.
In Norway the equivalent for dibs is "fus" (a dialect not used in the West), which means "first". Sometimes the word "fritt", meaning "free", is also used in a situation where you want to claim something. "Dibs" is also used.
In Peru the equivalent for dibs is "¡primi! (a diminutive for "primero") the first one to ask for it, and is used by children.
In Poland, the equivalent for dibs is "rezerwuję", "zaklepuję"/"zaklepane" (colloquial) or "zamawiam" (rather childish use) which means "I reserve".
In Portugal, the equivalent is "primeiros" ("first", literally translated). Some other words may be used depending on the region.
In Quebec, the equivalent for dibs would be "Shotgun". Shotgun, often shortened to "shot", is also used in other parts of Canada for calling front passenger seat in a car, only while being in sight of the vehicle.
In Russian speaking countries, the equivalent is "Чур моё", which means "mind you it's mine", or more recently "Забито" (loosely translated as "claimed").
In Spain, the equivalent for dibs is "prímer" or "primero" (meaning "first") or "Me pido X/Me lo pido" (meaning "I ask for something/I ask for it").
In Sweden, the equivalent for dibs is "Pax", which means "peace" in Latin, although "etta vara" and "etta få", which basically means "I call first to be..." and "I call first to have..." (literally "number one to be/have"), are also commonly used. Conversely, one may dib oneself out of a chore not yet assigned by saying "etta inte jag" ("I call first not to be me"). This continues with "tvåa inte jag" ("I call second not to be me") until there is only one person remaining, to whom the chore is then assigned. "Shotgun" and "Dibs" are also used.
In the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia, "bags", "tax", "shotgun" or "bagsie" – or variants including "begsie" and "bugsy" – is used for the same effect. Bagsie is most commonly used by children. The Australian use of "shotgun" (or "shotty" for short) as well as calling "jenga" has started to popularize in recent years. Due to American influence, "dibs" is also used, though to a lesser extent. "Bagsie", or "bags", started out as "Bags I", according to the Oxford English Dictionary, which started giving school-related examples since 1866. Similarly, bag or bags can be used informally as a verb, meaning claim in a phrase like "I'll bag the best seats". This is related to the expression "to bag", meaning "to put something in a bag".
In Venezuela, the equivalent for dibs is "mío" or "Lo Tengo", which means "mine" or "Gotcha" respectively, but if you want someone to share what you have with you, you have to use the colloquial expression "MITIMITI" which would mean something like "Share with me". The latter comes from a shorthand of "mitad y mitad" which means half and half, implying that something be equally shared.
In Zambia, the equivalent for dibs is "donki" which means "i choose that" and involves pointing to something you lay claim to.
In Switzerland, the equivalent is the phrase "Chopf, Bei, Bode berüehrt", which means "head, legs, touched the ground". An alternative to this expression would be "gschobe Schlössli", in English analogous "the key has been put into the lock".
- Zorn, Eric (December 15, 2005). "No one seems to have dibs on word's origins". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2006-09-01.
- Epstein, Richard A (August 2001). "The Allocation of the Commons: Parking and Stopping on the Commons". University of Chicago School of Law.
- "helle". Den Danske Ordbog.
- "Bokmålsordboka | Nynorskordboka". Nob-ordbok.uio.no. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
- The dictionary definition of dibs at Wiktionary