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[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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Suddenly there was a confusion in the ladies' gallery, cries, a babble of tongues.

    The King of Schnorrers Israel Zangwill
  • Thence a babble of excited voices had reached him as he approached.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • They have undone it and gone to pieces with an injured lover's babble of persecuting inquiries for confessions.

  • Her words, too, were incoherent, as incoherent as the babble of the children themselves.

  • The point is that he babbles and is going to babble again, if he has another try at it.

    Right Ho, Jeeves P. G. Wodehouse
  • Donegal listened; and there was no babble of voices, and the rest of the orchestra was silent.

    Death of a Spaceman Walter M. Miller
  • There was a babble of welcome, a cross-fire of question and answer.

    Regiment of Women Clemence Dane
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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