9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[gahr-buh l] /ˈgɑr bəl/
verb (used with object), garbled, garbling.
to confuse unintentionally or ignorantly; jumble:
to garble instructions.
to make unfair or misleading selections from or arrangement of (fact, statements, writings, etc.); distort:
to garble a quotation.
Archaic. to take out the best of.
the act or process of garbling.
an instance of garbling; a garbled phrase, literary passage, etc.
Origin of garble
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English garbelen to remove refuse from spices < Old Italian garbellare to sift < Arabic gharbala < Late Latin crībellāre, derivative of crībellum, diminutive of Latin crībrum sieve (see -elle); probably influenced by garboil
Related forms
garbleable, adjective
garbler, noun
ungarbled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for garbled
  • At best, this garbled film is a study in unmotivated behavior.
  • Occasionally, a sentence is so garbled that it is impossible to decipher.
  • Their prose is larded with clichés and garbled with gobbledegook.
  • The on-board recordings from the mission are often garbled and out of chronological order, but exciting nonetheless.
  • It's a sloppy process, prone to garbled words and missed phrases.
  • Psych-folk weirdos roll down the street in a shopping cart singing garbled vocals into cardboard cups.
  • The few remarks he offers from the stage sound garbled and perfunctory.
  • Only if his message isn't garbled or drowned out or misunderstood will an accident be averted.
  • Unfortunately, the map coordinates were badly garbled in the growing excitement.
  • It may not help that the experts themselves sometimes send garbled messages.
British Dictionary definitions for garbled


jumbled or unclear because of distortion or omissions


verb (transitive)
to jumble (a story, quotation, etc), esp unintentionally
to distort the meaning of (an account, text, etc), as by making misleading omissions; corrupt
(rare) to select the best part of
  1. the act of garbling
  2. garbled matter
Derived Forms
garbler, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Old Italian garbellare to strain, sift, from Arabic gharbala, from ghirbāl sieve, from Late Latin crībellum small sieve, from crībrum sieve
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 garbled



early 15c., "to inspect and remove refuse from (spices)," from Anglo-French garbeler "to sift" (late 14c.), from Medieval Latin and Italian garbellare, from Arabic gharbala "to sift and select spices," related to kirbal "sieve," perhaps from Late Latin cribellum, diminutive of Latin cribrum "sieve" (see crisis). Apparently a widespread word among Mediterranean traders (cf. Italian garbellare, Spanish garbillo); sense of "mix up, confuse, distort language" (by selecting some things and omitting others) first recorded 1680s. Related: Garbled; garbling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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