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  • imbroglio
  • audio pronunciation
  • \im-BROHL-yoh\
  • DEFINITION

noun

1
: a confused mass
2
a : a complicated situation b : a painful or embarrassing misunderstanding c : a violent or bitter altercation : embroilment
  • EXAMPLES

The two motorists got into an imbroglio after both tried to make a move for the same parking spot.

  • DID YOU KNOW?

"Imbroglio" and "embroilment" are more than just synonyms; they're also linked through etymology. Both descend from the Middle French verb "embrouiller" (same meaning as "embroil"), from the prefix "em-," meaning "thoroughly," plus "brouiller," meaning "to mix" or "to confuse." ("Brouiller" is itself a descendant of an Old French word for broth.) Early in the 17th century, English speakers began using "embroil," a direct adaptation of "embrouiller." Our noun "embroilment," which also entered the language in the early 17th century, comes from the same source. Meanwhile, the Italians were using their own alteration of "embrouiller" : "imbrogliare," meaning "to entangle." In the mid-18th century, English speakers embraced the Italian noun "imbroglio" as well.

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