From Middle English babelen, from Old English *bæblian, also wæflian (to talk foolishly), from Proto-Germanic *babalōną (to chatter), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰa-bʰa-, perhaps a reduplication of Proto-Indo-European *bʰeh₂- (to say), or a variant of Proto-Indo-European *baba- (to talk vaguely, mumble), or a merger of the two, possibly ultimately onomatopoetic/mimicry of infantile sounds. Cognate with Old Frisian babbelje (to babble), Old Norse babbla (to babble) (Swedish babbla), Middle Low German babbelen (to babble), Dutch babbelen (to babble, chat), German pappeln and babbeln (to babble).


  • IPA(key): /ˈbæb.l̩/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æbəl


babble (third-person singular simple present babbles, present participle babbling, simple past and past participle babbled)

  1. (intransitive) To utter words indistinctly or unintelligibly; to utter inarticulate sounds
    The men were babbling, so we couldn't make sense of anything.
  2. (intransitive) To talk incoherently; to utter meaningless words.
  3. (intransitive) To talk too much; to chatter; to prattle.
  4. (intransitive) To make a continuous murmuring noise, like shallow water running over stones.
    Hounds are said to babble, or to be babbling, when they are too noisy after having found a good scent.
  5. (transitive) To utter in an indistinct or incoherent way; to repeat words or sounds in a childish way without understanding.
    • 1712, John Arbuthnot, The History of John Bull:
      These [words] he used to babble indifferently in all companies.
  6. (transitive) To reveal; to give away (a secret).



babble (usually uncountable, plural babbles)

  1. Idle talk; senseless prattle
    Synonyms: gabble, twaddle
    • 1634, John Milton, Comus, a Mask, line 823:
      This is mere moral babble.
  2. Inarticulate speech; constant or confused murmur.
  3. A sound like that of water gently flowing around obstructions.




See alsoEdit





  1. inflection of babbeln:
    1. first-person singular present
    2. first/third-person singular subjunctive I
    3. singular imperative