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gar·​ble ˈgär-bəl How to pronounce garble (audio)
garbled; garbling ˈgär-b(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce garble (audio)

transitive verb

: to so alter or distort as to create a wrong impression or change the meaning
garble a story
: to introduce textual error into (a message) by inaccurate encipherment, transmission, or decipherment
: to sift impurities from
archaic : cull sense 1
garbler noun


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: an act or an instance of garbling
: the impurities removed from spices in sifting

Did you know?

Garble comes from Anglo-French garbeler, meaning "to remove impurities or refuse from (spices)." The English word refers to distortion of speech or writing that makes its meaning unclear (impure).

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
Noisy environments and interruptions garbled the audio or led to the services transcribing voices of people in the office who weren’t in our meeting. Danielle Abril, Washington Post, 17 Aug. 2023 Texts may be misread, communication could get garbled over the phone, or that work email might accidentally go unsent. Tarot Astrologers, Chicago Tribune, 5 Apr. 2023 Instead, any user whose message was lost or garbled because of a collision would simply try again after a random time interval. Ben Brubaker, Quanta Magazine, 22 Mar. 2023 After the connection was garbled several times, the team brought his testimony to a cell phone, which then promptly dropped. William Earl, Variety, 30 Mar. 2023 In 2013, Sahai and five co-authors proposed an iO protocol that splits up a program into something like jigsaw puzzle pieces, then uses cryptographic objects called multilinear maps to garble the individual pieces. Quanta Magazine, 10 Nov. 2020 At one point Justice Stephen Breyer's line was briefly garbled. Anchorage Daily News, 5 May 2020 The not-so-great aspect of the low-tech shows are video conference interviews that get glitchy, as voices get garbled or out of sync, and images freeze up. oregonlive, 24 Apr. 2020 As a result, if something is wrong with a flight attendant's PA, it will be reported to maintenance, whereas the pilots may even not be aware theirs is garbled. John Cox, USA TODAY, 4 Apr. 2020
This is cumbersome, which is why some Web3 companies have carved out a small but profitable niche to allow users to translate their wallet address from alphanumeric garble to a username, or from 0xAA2B52A6DF7DBFD07640BDA2B373D37BACD81DF5 to simple.nft. Ben Weiss, Fortune Crypto, 17 July 2023 Maybe there was a garble (the difference between didn’t come up and wasn’t discussed inappropriately could easily be confused). Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, 2 May 2020 The audio reflects about 30 minutes of radio transmissions edited for brevity and elimination of gaps and garbles. D. Kwas, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 27 Aug. 2019 At every turn, Guyatt either garbles or corrupts my arguments. Nicholas Guyatt, The New York Review of Books, 6 June 2019 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,, 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, 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, 27 Aug. 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'garble.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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.


derivative of garble entry 1; in sense 2 perhaps in part borrowed from Italian garbello, noun derivative of garbellare

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3


1503, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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


Dictionary Entries Near garble

Cite this Entry

“Garble.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


garbled; garbling
: to change or twist the meaning or sound of

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