verb (used with object), gar·bled, gar·bling.

  1. to confuse unintentionally or ignorantly; jumble: to garble instructions.
  2. to make unfair or misleading selections from or arrangement of (fact, statements, writings, etc.); distort: to garble a quotation.
  3. Archaic. to take out the best of.


  1. the act or process of garbling.
  2. an instance of garbling; a garbled phrase, literary passage, etc.


  1. jumbled or unclear because of distortion or omissions

verb (tr)

  1. to jumble (a story, quotation, etc), esp unintentionally
  2. to distort the meaning of (an account, text, etc), as by making misleading omissions; corrupt
  3. rare to select the best part of


    1. the act of garbling
    2. garbled matter

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.

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