To dabble is to get just a little wet by splashing a bit.
More generally speaking, if you dabble, or if you dabble in an activity or interest, you get involved in it just a little bit, as if you’re dipping just your fingers or toes into it rather than jumping all the way in. Dabbling is usually done for fun rather than for a serious, professional purpose.
Part of speech:
It can be the transitive kind: you dabble your finger in the paint, or you dabble a scratch with medicine.
But when we use it figuratively, it’s the intransitive kind: you dabble in a sport, you dabble in poetry, you dabble in the world of drawing manga.
dabbled, dabbling, dabbler(s)
How to use it:
When you say that someone dabbles in something, there might be a judgmental edge to your comment, as if you’re calling that person a dilettante: someone involved in some sphere or activity in a manner that’s unskilled, unprofessional, and perhaps baselessly arrogant. “Don’t mention how horrible her sewing is; she’ll be dabbling in something else soon anyway.”
But you might simply be describing someone graced with the time, the curiosity, and the confidence to follow her whims. “He’s dabbling in Italian.” “She’s dabbling in trim carpentry.” “Thanks to YouTube, we can all be dabblers in makeup artistry.”
Feeling ogled, and not wanting to talk to any of the other attendees, I arranged myself into a posture I hoped would look aloof and mysterious, one that would say, “I might dabble in Muay Thai or Krav Maga. You don’t know.”
“Mr. Hirson wrote two plays that were produced off-Broadway in the 1960s, ‘Journey to the Day’ and ‘World War 2½,’ and occasionally dabbled in Hollywood screenwriting.”
— Harrison Smith, Washington Post, 30 May 2019