Origin of English word BABBLE

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English Word


Edenic Word


Hebrew Word









Babel, Babylonia...inarticulate, confused speech


A BABEL (confusion of voices, tumult) of linguists take up the word BABBLE (inarticulate, confused speech) and do not connect it back to BABEL. Dictionaries will cite Swedish babbein (to prattle), Latin balbutire (to stammer) and Sanskrit balbuthah (stammerer), with no mention of that monument to linguistic engineering — the Tower of Babel.  For the AHD’s Indo-European “root”, see BOOBY.

The Oxford English Dictionary prefers to give BABBLE an "origin unknown" designation. The OED states that "no direct connection with Babel can be traced, though association with that may have affected the senses." Were the Tower of Babel a Celtic or a Norse myth, the dictionaries might insist on a Babel-BABBLE connection.

The scholars ignore the connection to Genesis 11:9 – בבל   BaBHeL  (Babel), because the Lord did there     בלל BahLahL or  “confound the language of all the earth." One BL term doubles the L; the other the B. Babel may mean bab (gate) el (of God) in Babylonian, but to Bible readers Babel has always been associated with confused communication. Those who have forgotten their Bible have forgotten that the English-speaking world grew up on Scripture.

   The built-in opposite of  בלולה   BiLOOLaH (mixed) is  ברורה   BaROORaH (pure) – see PURE.


BeeLBaiL is to confuse; more at BALL. A list of English words from Hebrew proper nouns is found at RUTHLESS. For the BL link to BR terms of confusion like BARBARIC see GARBLE.  BAFFLE (origin unknown) has definitions (to perplex, to thwart) particularly suited to the Biblical BABHEL or BAFEL. To jabber or mutter in Afrikaans is to brab’bel.       

To BOBBLE (fumble) may be another form of Babel-babble confusion, rather than a movement word from  “bob.”

[ Mark Feffer]    DISCOMBOBULATE (to confuse) or to be DISCOMBOBULATED (in a state of confusion) has been in print since the 1830’s.  The best theory as to its origin is a slang form of “discomposed.”  The reader of this entry is less confused as to where a BBL term of confusion may come from.  (Philip Silverman)

Bible Verses

Genesis 11:9 על־כן קרא שׁמה בבל כי־שׁם בלל יהוה שׂפת כל־הארץ ומשׁם הפיצם יהוה על־פני כל־הארץ׃

“Therefore was the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth; and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”



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