1 : to eat slowly or with small bites
We nibbled cheese and crackers.
We nibbled on some cheese and crackers before dinner.
— often + at
She felt a fish nibble at the end of her fishing line.
Insects nibbled at the tree's leaves.
— sometimes used figuratively
He nibbled at the idea of changing careers [=he thought briefly about changing careers], but decided against it in the end.
2 [+ object] : to bite (something) very gently
He nibbled her ear.
nibble (away) at [phrasal verb]
nibble (away) at (something)
- to make (something) disappear or go away very slowly
Police have been nibbling (away) at crime in the city for years. [=police have been very slowly reducing the amount of crime in the city]