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Calling "dibs" is the American English term, also known as "Bags" in the Australia and New Zealand, and as "Bagsies" in UK and Ireland, for an informal convention where one declares a first claim to something to which no one else has a clearly recognized right. Calling "dibs" or "Bagsies" is only possible when the caller wants the responsibility of the object. It is important to note that it is possible to "undibs", if the caller wants to. Such a declaration is often recognized in certain cultures, or sub-cultures, as a means to avoid arguments over relatively trivial issues although can be considered quite rude at some points.
You are not allowed to call dibs on something which is owned by you, or coming out through you. In this case, the person who sees the object first is entitled to call dibs and hence claim it as his/her own.
The term 'Bags' in much of the English world outside of the US comes from the schoolyard practice of placing ones bag on a chair, bench or other location, thus reserving the seat for you or your group of friends.
Usage and equivalent words
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In Albania, "e zura" (meaning "I occupied it...").
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 Australia, "bags", "shotgun" (often shortened to "shotty"), and more recently, "jenga", are used.
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 Bosnia and Herzegovina kids either say "pik moje" or "pik prvi". "Pik moje" would mean: I pick (call) it to be mine, whereas "pik prvi" would translate to: I pick (call) it to use it as the first. It is not clear where the verb "pik" comes from since it does not seem to be of Slavic origin. Most probably the word stems from the German verb "pieken" which means to stab, pierce or jab.
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 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 Czech Republic, the equivalent for dibs would be "první", which means "first".
In Finland, the equivalent is "apus" followed by the claimed object, for example "Apus etupenkki!" to claim the front seat. "Dibs" and "Shotgun" are also used.
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 "preums". Conversely, 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. Conversely, "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. It referred to capturing property and possibly livestock of ethnically cleansed Kosovo Serbs, Roma and other non-Albanians (400 000 fled in late 1999), who were forced to leave once NATO stepped in and UCK was able to finally exercise their toughness on civilians and Christian churches and medieval monuments.
In South Korea, the equivalent for dibs is "찜" (jjim), meaning "I got that".
In Mexico, the word "pido" (I ask) or "primis" (first) is commonly used by children.
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 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 New Zealand the equivalent for dibs is "anoos" which is yelled whilst clutching ones ear.
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 Romania, the equivalent is "Stop pe rosu", which means "stop on red".
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. "Tjing" is used in some places, and the American "Shotgun" and "Dibs" are also used.
In Switzerland (German side), the equivalent is the phrase "Chopf, Bei, Bode berüehrt", which means "touched head, legs and floor". An alternative to this expression would be "gschobe Schlössli", in English analogous "the key has been put into the lock".
In Turkey, there is no exact term, but the equivalent is the phrase "O benim hakkim", which means "That's my property". An alternative to this expression would be "kaptim", in English "I got it". You can also use "'benim'" meaning "mine".
In the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand, "bags", "tax" or "bagsie" – or variants including "begsie" and "bugsy" – is used for the same effect. Bagsie is most commonly used by children. Historically, "dibs" has been used through much of the U.K. "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.
- 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