9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[bab-uh l] /ˈbæb əl/
verb (used without object), babbled, babbling.
to utter sounds or words imperfectly, indistinctly, or without meaning.
to talk idly, irrationally, excessively, or foolishly; chatter or prattle.
to make a continuous, murmuring sound.
verb (used with object), babbled, babbling.
to utter in an incoherent, foolish, or meaningless fashion.
to reveal foolishly or thoughtlessly:
to babble a secret.
inarticulate or imperfect speech.
foolish, meaningless, or incoherent speech; prattle.
a murmuring sound or a confusion of sounds.
babbling (def 2).
Telecommunications. a confused mixture of extraneous sounds in a circuit, resulting from cross talk from other channels.
Compare cross talk (def 1).
Origin of babble
1200-50; Middle English babelen; cognate with Old Norse babbla, Dutch babbelen, German pappelen
Related forms
outbabble, verb (used with object), outbabbled, outbabbling.
Can be confused
babble, Babel, bauble, bubble.
2. chitchat, gabble, drivel, blather. 3. murmur, gurgle, burble. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for babble
  • Don't be so short that you're incomplete, but don't babble on either.
  • The characters babble in chipmunk voices, spouting dialogue that is mostly scripted but seems improvised.
  • They babble on as if the user were in a magical state of attentiveness.
  • Now consider its modern heir: the babble about towers spouted by architects.
  • The background babble in my train seemed to change according to the language of the signs on the train platforms slipping by.
  • We could use more real information and less feel good babble.
  • Once again, however, her relentless babble was tiring rather than stimulating.
  • If they could speak it would undoubtedly be babble to us, but within their own realms they seem to converse harmoniously.
  • Truth drugs tend to make suspects babble as much falsehood as truth.
  • Only once, when he was asked about his family, did he pause in his excited babble.
British Dictionary definitions for babble


to utter (words, sounds, etc) in an incoherent or indistinct jumble
(intransitive) to talk foolishly, incessantly, or irrelevantly
(transitive) to disclose (secrets, confidences, etc) carelessly or impulsively
(intransitive) (of streams, birds, etc) to make a low murmuring or bubbling sound
incoherent or foolish speech; chatter
a murmuring or bubbling sound
Derived Forms
babblement, noun
babbling, noun, adjective
Word Origin
C13: compare Dutch babbelen, Swedish babbla, French babiller to prattle, Latin babulus fool; probably all of imitative origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for babble

mid-13c., babeln "to prattle, chatter," akin to other Western European words for stammering and prattling (cf. Swedish babbla, Old French babillier) attested from the same era, some of which probably were borrowed from others, but etymologists cannot now determine which were original. Probably imitative of baby-talk, in any case (cf. Latin babulus "babbler," Greek barbaros "non-Greek-speaking"). "No direct connexion with Babel can be traced; though association with that may have affected the senses" [OED]. Meaning "to repeat oneself incoherently, speak foolishly" is attested from c.1400. Related: Babbled; babbling.


"idle talk," c.1500, from babble (v.). In 16c., commonly in reduplicated form bibble-babble.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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