Definition of garble
1 archaic : cull 1
2 : to sift impurities from
3a : to so alter or distort as to create a wrong impression or change the meaning garble a storyb : to introduce textual error into (a message) by inaccurate encipherment, transmission, or decipherment
garblerplay \ˈgär-b(ə-)lər\ noun
garble was our Word of the Day on 01/30/2009. Hear the podcast!
Examples of garble in a sentence
the candidate complained that his views had been deliberately garbled by his opponent
garbled spices are less likely to contaminate a recipe
Did You Know?
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."
Origin and Etymology of garble
Middle English garbelen, from Old Italian garbellare to sift, from Arabic gharbala, from Late Latin cribellare, from cribellum sieve; akin to Latin cernere to sift — more at certain
First Known Use: 15th century
Definition of garble
1 : the impurities removed from spices in sifting
2 : an act or an instance of garbling
GARBLE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of garble for English Language Learners
: to cause (a word, name, message, etc.) to be unclear or confusing
GARBLE Defined for Kids
Definition of garble for Students
: to change or twist the meaning or sound of He garbled the message.
History for garble
At first the word garble meant “to sift” or “to sort or pick out.” If you pick out a few misleading parts of a message and report only those parts, you distort the message, and so garble came to mean “to distort.” It is the meaning “sift,” however, that reflects the origin of garble. The English word garble came from an old Italian verb garbellare that meant “to sift.” This word came in turn from an Arabic word gharbala that meant “sieve.” The Arabs took this word ultimately from a Latin word cribellum that meant “sieve.”
Seen and Heard
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