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

Definition of garble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : 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
2 : to sift impurities from
3 archaic : cull sense 1



Definition of garble (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Other Words from garble


garbler \ ˈgär-​b(ə-​)lər How to pronounce garble (audio) \ noun

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 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, "Computer Scientists Achieve ‘Crown Jewel’ of Cryptography," 10 Nov. 2020 At one point Justice Stephen Breyer's line was briefly garbled. Anchorage Daily News, "Called to order: Supreme Court holds 1st arguments by phone," 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, "‘Saturday Night Live’ returns for a second ‘At Home’ show this weekend," 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, "Ask the Captain: Why can I hear the flight attendant's PA fine but not the pilot's?," 4 Apr. 2020 The candidates' closing arguments to Arizona Democrats in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary were garbled by the novel coronavirus outbreak. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Biden wins Arizona easily, sinking Sanders in the West," 17 Mar. 2020 But Dersh garbled the point — which also occasionally happens, even to those of us who are not 81 and lack the professor’s vigor. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "There Is No Strict Legal Test of Impeachment," 31 Jan. 2020 The recording was garbled at times, the newspaper reported, but a man told the authorities that a woman had fallen into a creek and couldn’t be pulled from the water. Ashley Remkus |, al, "Huntsville FBI photographer’s ‘suspicious’ death under investigation," 14 Oct. 2019 The league’s initial response to the Morey fiasco was garbled, vague, and contradictory. Nathaniel Friedman, The New Republic, "In Its Fight With China, the NBA Shows Its True Colors," 11 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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, "The FBI Set Flynn Up to Preserve the Trump–Russia Probe," 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, "Semitrailer driver cited in crash that shut down I-43 near Mitchell Interchange," 27 Aug. 2019 At every turn, Guyatt either garbles or corrupts my arguments. Nicholas Guyatt, The New York Review of Books, "‘No Property in Man’: An Exchange," 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,, "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,, "As the hashtag marks its 10th birthday, are we #blessed?," 24 Aug. 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.

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First Known Use of garble


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3


1503, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for garble


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

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

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Cite this Entry

“Garble.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for garble



English Language Learners Definition of garble

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


gar·​ble | \ ˈgär-bəl How to pronounce garble (audio) \
garbled; garbling

Kids Definition of garble

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

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for garble

Nglish: Translation of garble for Spanish Speakers

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