1. an ancient city in the land of Shinar in which the building of a tower (Tower of Babel) intended to reach heaven was begun and the confusion of the language of the people took place. Gen. 11:4–9.
  2. (usually lowercase) a confused mixture of sounds or voices.
  3. (usually lowercase) a scene of noise and confusion.


  1. Old Testament
    1. Also called: Tower of Babela tower presumptuously intended to reach from earth to heaven, the building of which was frustrated when Jehovah confused the language of the builders (Genesis 11:1–9)
    2. the city, probably Babylon, in which this tower was supposedly built
  2. (often not capital)
    1. a confusion of noises or voices
    2. a scene of noise and confusion


  1. Issak Emmanuilovich (iˈsak imənuˈiləvitʃ) 1894–1941, Russian short-story writer, whose works include Stories from Odessa (1924) and Red Cavalry (1926)

capital of Babylon, late 14c., from Hebrew Babhel (Gen. xi), from Akkadian bab-ilu “Gate of God” (from bab “gate” + ilu “god”). The name is a translation of Sumerian Ka-dingir. Meaning “confused medley of sounds” (1520s) is from the biblical story of the Tower of Babel.

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