garble

verb
gar·​ble | \ˈgär-bəl \
garbled; garbling\ˈgär-​b(ə-​)liŋ \

Definition of garble 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 archaic : cull sense 1

2 : to sift impurities from

3a : to so alter or distort as to create a wrong impression or change the meaning garble a story

b : to introduce textual error into (a message) by inaccurate encipherment, transmission, or decipherment

garble

noun

Definition of garble (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the impurities removed from spices in sifting

2 : an act or an instance of garbling

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from garble

Verb

garbler \ˈgär-​b(ə-​)lər \ noun

The Winding History of Garble

Verb

Garble developed from Late Latin cribellare, a verb meaning "to sift." Arabic speakers borrowed "cribellare" as "gharbala," and the Arabic word passed into Old Italian as garbellare; both of these words also meant "to sift." When the word first entered Middle English as "garbelen," its meaning stayed close to the original; it meant "to sort out the best." But that sort of sifting can cause a distortion, and in early Modern English "garble" came to mean "to distort the meaning or sound of."

Examples of garble in a Sentence

Verb

the candidate complained that his views had been deliberately garbled by his opponent garbled spices are less likely to contaminate a recipe

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Siri often doesn't hear me correctly, so my texts get garbled. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "“Computer, lights:” How Ars staffers actually use voice-interactive bots," 3 Sep. 2018 Zonnour gave an interview to an Iranian newspaper, which was then repackaged by Iran’s semiofficial news agency, which was then picked up by U.S. media and then by the president on his Twitter feed (with some of the details garbled). Salvador Rizzo, Washington Post, "Trump claims Obama gave citizenship to 2,500 Iranians during nuclear deal talks," 4 July 2018 And, for a long, innocent moment, everything about this arrangement will seem surreal to the black child, distorted, like a message that has somehow been garbled in the delivery. Danielle Jackson, Longreads, "Zadie Smith on the Work and Influences of Deana Lawson," 11 May 2018 And, for a long, innocent moment, everything about this arrangement will seem surreal to the black child, distorted, like a message that has somehow been garbled in the delivery. Danielle Jackson, Longreads, "Zadie Smith on the Work and Influences of Deana Lawson," 11 May 2018 Slater did not speak English well, his heavy German accent frequently garbling words and making him misunderstood. Sarah Weinman, The New Republic, "Arthur Conan Doyle, True Detective," 14 June 2018 And, for a long, innocent moment, everything about this arrangement will seem surreal to the black child, distorted, like a message that has somehow been garbled in the delivery. Danielle Jackson, Longreads, "Zadie Smith on the Work and Influences of Deana Lawson," 11 May 2018 In some editions Saturday, the first paragraph of a World News article about military exercises in South Korea was garbled. WSJ, "Corrections & Amplifications for the edition of May 14, 2018," 14 May 2018 And, for a long, innocent moment, everything about this arrangement will seem surreal to the black child, distorted, like a message that has somehow been garbled in the delivery. Danielle Jackson, Longreads, "Zadie Smith on the Work and Influences of Deana Lawson," 11 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But the video — and subsequent performances, including a cringey SNL appearance — contains visual and lyrical content that is not a focused homage to Japan but rather a garble of exociticizing Asian signifiers. Andrew Chow, refinery29.com, "Let's Be Real: Asian And Black Artists Aren't "Celebrating" Each Other Through Hip-Hop," 22 May 2018 There are bouts of puppy love (and more intense crushes), plenty of witty garbles from Sunny, and some Broadway-worthy performances from Harris (the end of episode three might be the grandest of them all). Michaela Bechler, Vogue, "A Series of Unfortunate Events," 29 Mar. 2018 Indeed, Messina had given birth to a tool that would infiltrate our vernacular, aggregate conversations and, yes, fill screens with unnecessary, meaningless garble. Matt Stevens, The Seattle Times, "As the hashtag celebrates its 10th birthday, are we #blessed?," 27 Aug. 2017 Indeed, Messina had given birth to a tool that would infiltrate our vernacular, aggregate conversations and, yes, fill screens with unnecessary, meaningless garble. Matt Stevens, The Seattle Times, "As the hashtag celebrates its 10th birthday, are we #blessed?," 27 Aug. 2017 Indeed, Messina had given birth to a tool that would infiltrate our vernacular, aggregate conversations and, yes, fill screens with unnecessary, meaningless garble. The New York Times, NOLA.com, "As the hashtag marks its 10th birthday, are we #blessed?," 24 Aug. 2017 Tinkerbell is a man in a white tutu, who speaks in a garble impossible to understand. Susan Dunne, courant.com, "National Theatre Live's 'Peter Pan' In Area Theaters," 5 June 2017 Rapper Dudley Perkins, Muldrow's musical collaborator on previous ventures, at one point took to the stage to offer a short soliloquy that was nearly impossible to decipher due, once again, to a garble of overblown sound. Howard Reich, chicagotribune.com, "Review: Moran and Muldrow's 'New Fables' struggles with music of Mingus," 3 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'garble.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of garble

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1502, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for garble

Verb

Middle English garbelen "to remove impurites or refuse from (spices)," borrowed from Anglo-French garbeler, probably borrowed—directly or from Italian *garbellare (attested in Medieval Latin of Verona as garbellāre in 1319)—from Arabic gharbala "to sift, screen," derivative of ghirbāl "sieve," borrowed from Late Latin crībellum, diminutive of Latin crībrum "sieve" — more at riddle entry 3

Note: Presumably a word passed from Arabic to Mediterranean Europe through trade in Eastern spices. The earliest evidence of the Romance/Latin etymon is in a statute of the city of Marseille (recording both garbellare and garbellum "sieve, riddle") from 1269 (though there is apparently no corresponding word in Old Occitan). The French form garbalé (past participle of the verb) is attested in a document from Bruges in Flanders dated to 1304. Joan Coromines (Diccionario crítico etimológico castellano e hispánico) believes the word was first adopted from Arabic in Catalonia, partly on the basis of the half-Catalan phrase grana assaonada "ripened grains [?]" used in the above-mentioned Marseille statute.

Noun

derivative of garble entry 1; in sense 1 perhaps in part borrowed from Italian garbello, noun derivative of garbellare

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about garble

Listen to Our Podcast about garble

Statistics for garble

Last Updated

30 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for garble

The first known use of garble was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for garble

garble

verb

English Language Learners Definition of garble

: to cause (a word, name, message, etc.) to be unclear or confusing

garble

verb
gar·​ble | \ˈgär-bəl \
garbled; garbling

Kids Definition of garble

: to change or twist the meaning or sound of He garbled the message.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on garble

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with garble

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for garble

Spanish Central: Translation of garble

Nglish: Translation of garble for Spanish Speakers

Comments on garble

What made you want to look up garble? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to enclose within walls

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!