im·​bro·​glio | \ im-ˈbrōl-(ˌ)yō How to pronounce imbroglio (audio) \
plural imbroglios

Definition of imbroglio

1a : an acutely painful or embarrassing misunderstanding
b : scandal sense 1a survived the political imbroglio
c : a violently confused or bitterly complicated altercation : embroilment
d : an intricate or complicated situation (as in a drama or novel)
2 : a confused mass

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 (which has the 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, as well as the noun embroilment. 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.

Examples of imbroglio in a Sentence

a celebrated imbroglio involving some big names in the New York literary scene
Recent Examples on the Web Social media picked up the imbroglio, and the bar’s reputation plummeted. Mary Colurso |, al, 31 Mar. 2022 The conflict may have involved a mundane debate over carpet versus tile, but in statistical terms was more likely to result in an imbroglio with home contractors or builders. Jeffrey Steele, Forbes, 13 Apr. 2022 For Zubrin, the entire Ukraine imbroglio is a black-and-white phenomenon: Either Ukraine emerges victorious, or the U.S. watches as a Chinese surrogate, otherwise known as Putin’s Russia, dominates the Eurasian continent. Daniel Depetris, National Review, 23 Mar. 2022 In an effort to glean definitive proof of the hoax, the hosts and a former Birmingham-school volunteer fly to Perth, Australia, to try to appeal to a key witness in the resignation-letters imbroglio. Sarah Larson, The New Yorker, 20 Mar. 2022 By first declining to take a public stand — only to later say the company opposed the legislation all along — Chapek found himself in his biggest imbroglio since becoming chief executive of the Burbank entertainment giant two years ago. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, 12 Mar. 2022 Fortune has been covering the geopolitical imbroglio's impact on business, from the plunging Russian stock market and sanctions against Russian oligarchs to soaring energy prices and uncertainty in the global markets. Emma Hinchliffe, Fortune, 25 Feb. 2022 The Young imbroglio comes as Spotify’s dominance over the global streaming market — while still considerable — appears to be waning. Chris Eggertsen, Billboard, 27 Jan. 2022 The recent imbroglio over whether Mr. Djokovic should be allowed to play in the Australian Open has done little to dim his shine, even among those who do not agree with his decision to stay unvaccinated. Marc Santora, New York Times, 13 Jan. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of imbroglio

1750, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for imbroglio

Italian, from imbrogliare to entangle, from Middle French embrouiller — more at embroil

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The first known use of imbroglio was in 1750

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Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Imbroglio.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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