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Word Curio

May 21, 2020

Word of the Day: Garble

1 CQ

Word of the Day : August 9, 2017

garble \GAR-bul\ verb


1 : to sift impurities from

2 a : to alter or distort as to create a wrong impression or change the meaning

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


The best man was nervous and garbled the inspirational quote at the end of his speech.

"Some calls are garbled, making it difficult for dispatchers to understand the caller." — Joe Wilson, quoted in The Cleveland Daily Banner, 5 June 2017

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 sound or meaning of."

Aired August 9, 2017

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