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I've been told by a native speaker that the verb "to nibble" can be used both with and without a preposition. So, is there a difference between

I would definitely like to nibble on one of those sweet, sweet rodents!


I would definitely like to nibble one of those sweet, sweet rodents!

See this question on Travel-SE for some context.

Which one (or maybe both) are correct? Is there a difference in meaning?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

There’s little difference, as these two citations from the OED, both from the 1980s, show:

She and Roy would nibble on each other.

Encircling her slim waist with a fond arm, the husband of a fortnight nibbles her throat.

Neither describes an act of cannibalism.

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+1 for the clarification at the end of the succinct answer. – Irene Dec 16 '11 at 16:41

Without the preposition is more common, but with the preposition is gaining in popularity.A graph showing the frequency of *nibble a* vs *nibble on a* in the Google books corpus

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