Kelly really is quite the dab hand at bowling. I've never seen her score less than 210.
|SME||Subject matter expert|
|IANAE||I am not an expert|
|KCCO||Keep calm and carry on|
|WTBH||What the bloody hell|
Someone who is a dab hand at something is an expert at that activity. For example, LeBron James is a dab hand at basketball, Bob Vila is a dab hand at home repair, and Agatha Christie was a dab hand at writing mysteries.
Where did dab hand originate?
Dab hand is a British term that was coined in the nineteenth century. Prior to dab hand's existence, experts were sometimes referred to as just dabs. For example, in the 1698-99 Dictionary of the Canting Crew, the word dab was used to mean "an exquisite expert."
However, no one is sure where the term dab came from. It may be related to the verb dab (which originally meant "to give somebody a sharp blow" before acquiring its current, softer meaning) or it may be an offshoot of the word adept.
Is dab hand used outside Britain?
Yes, but not frequently. Though the rise of the Internet, social media, and British baking shows has added dab hand to some other people's lexicons, don't be surprised if non-Anglophiles don't know what dab hand means.