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Gibberish, alternatively jibber, jabber, jibber-jabber, or gobbledygook, is speech that is (or appears to

be) nonsense. It may include speech sounds that are not actual words,[1] or language games and
specialized jargon that seems nonsensical to outsiders.[2]

"Gibberish" is also used as an imprecation to denigrate or tar ideas or opinions the user disagrees
with or finds irksome, a rough equivalent of "nonsense", "folderol", or "claptrap". The implication is
that the criticized expression or proposition lacks substance or congruence, as opposed to simply
being a differing view.

The related word jibber-jabber refers to rapid talk that is difficult to understand.[3]





2.2In acting

3Other terms and usage

4See also


6External links


The etymology of gibberish is uncertain. The term was first seen in English in the early
16th century.[4] It is generally thought to be an onomatopoeia imitative of speech, similar to the
words jabber (to talk rapidly) and gibber (to speak inarticulately).[5][6]

It may originate from the word jib, which is the Angloromani variant of the Romani language word
meaning "language" or "tongue". To non-speakers, the Anglo-Romany dialect could sound like English
mixed with nonsense words, and if those seemingly-nonsensical words are referred to as jib then the
term gibberish (pronounced "jibberish") could be derived as a descriptor for nonsensical speech.
Another theory is that gibberish came from the name of a famous 8th century Persian alchemist, Jābir
ibn Hayyān, whose name was Latinized as Geber. Thus, gibberish was a reference to the
incomprehensible technical jargon and allegorical coded language used by Jabir and
other alchemists.[7][8][9]

A discredited alternative theory asserts that it is derived from

the Irish word gob or gab ("mouth")[10] or from the Irish phrase Geab ar ais ("back talk, backward
chat").[11] The latter Irish etymology was suggested by Daniel Cassidy, whose work has been
criticised by linguists and scholars.[12][13][14] The terms geab and geabaire are certainly Irish words,
but the phrase geab ar ais does not exist, and the word gibberish exists as a loan-word in Irish
as gibiris.[15]

The term gobbledygook was coined by Maury Maverick, a former congressman from Texas and
former mayor of San Antonio.[16] When Maverick was chairman of the Smaller War Plants
Corporation during World War II, he sent a memorandum that said: "Be short and use plain English. ...
Stay off gobbledygook language."[17][18] Maverick defined gobbledygook as "talk or writing which is
long, pompous, vague, involved, usually with Latinized words." The allusion was to a turkey, "always
gobbledygobbling and strutting with ridiculous pomposity."[19][20]


The term "gobbledygook" has a long history of usage in politics. Nixon's Oval Office tape from June 14,
1971, showed H. R. Haldeman describing a situation to Nixon as "... a bunch of gobbledygook. But out
of the gobbledygook comes a very clear thing: You can't trust the government; you can't believe what
they say."[21] President Ronald Reagan explained tax law revisions in an address to the nation with
the word, May 28, 1985, saying that "most didn’t improve the system; they made it more like
Washington itself: Complicated, unfair, cluttered with gobbledygook and loopholes designed for
those with the power and influence to hire high-priced legal and tax advisers."[22] In 2017, US
Supreme Court justice John Roberts dismissed quantitative sociological reasoning as "gobbledygook"
in arguing against any numerical test for gerrymandering.[23]

Michael Shanks, former chairman to the National Consumer Council of Great Britain, characterizes
professional gobbledygook as sloppy jargon intended to confuse nonspecialists: "'Gobbledygook' may
indicate a failure to think clearly, a contempt for one's clients, or more probably a mixture of both. A
system that can't or won't communicate is not a safe basis for a democracy."[24]

In acting[edit]

Using gibberish whilst acting can be used as an exercise in performance art education.[25] Another
usage of gibberish is as part of Osho's "Gibberish meditation"[26] which has been derived from an
old Sufi practice.

Other terms and usage[edit]

Further information: Officialese and Legalese

The terms officialese or bureaucratese refer to language used by officials or authorities. Legalese is a
closely related concept, referring to language used by lawyers, legislators, and others involved with
the law. The language used in these fields may contain complex sentences and specialized jargon
or buzzwords, making it difficult for those outside the field to understand.[27] Speakers or writers of
officialese or legalese may recognize that it is confusing or even meaningless to outsiders, but view its
use as appropriate within their organization or group.[28]

Bafflegab is a synonym, a slang term referring to confusing or a generally unintelligible use of jargon.