I was wondering what "take a stab at doing something" means? For example

I'll take a stab at answering these.

  • 2
    – RegDwigнt
    Apr 10, 2012 at 18:24
  • @RegDwigнt Still, I like to read more descriptive answers from the community: as you see you get many more human-hints on the meaning of the sentence than a systematic dictionary definition (see chaos answer). So: I un-endorse the decision to close this question, :)
    – Campa
    Jul 28, 2015 at 6:13

3 Answers 3


As everybody has said, to take a stab at means to attempt. I want to additionally note here that I believe it to be related to the idiom stab in the dark, meaning an attempt at something with little guidance or hope of success. It doesn't carry the full weight of that meaning, though, just an attenuated implication of not necessarily knowing what one is doing, more likely used as mild self-deprecating humor than anything else.


It is simply an informal way of saying "make an attempt".

The following are all equivalent answers to the question of "Do you want to do (something)?"

Sure, I'll take a stab at it.

Sure, I'll give it a try.

Sure, I'll have a go at it.

  • 1
    Thanks! How is stab related to attempt?
    – Tim
    Feb 14, 2011 at 22:35
  • My google-fu comes up with very inconclusive results, in fact only one place even tries to provide any etymology. However, its vague idea agrees with my own, so: it's sort of a hunting analogy, you're "taking a stab" at something to see if you can hit a vital point, or strike at the heart of the matter.
    – Hellion
    Feb 14, 2011 at 22:42

Stab at means attempting to do something.

The NOAD report the following example:

Meredith made a feeble stab at joining in.

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