Etymology of Babble

Babble comes from the Middle Low German word babbelen (or hahelen) and the English ba; together they form the Middle English word babble. It is related to the repetitive sound a child makes when very young—ba.

To babble is to talk gibberish or nonsense. There are many terms that combine with babble, such as econobabble, neurobabble, psychobabble and sociobabble. Jeff Jeske’s book Storied Words: The Writer’s Vocabulary and Its Origins explains that this ancient word can be traced back to the Indo-European baba (a word that imitates the nonsensical talk of babies), and that this word was instrumental in creating words like barbarian, baby and baboon; he also explains that we can trace back Babble’s origins to the 13th century.


Jeske, Jeff. 2004. Storied Words. New York: iUniverse.

Onions, C. T, R. W Burchfield, and G. W. S Friedrichsen. 1966. The Oxford Dictionary Of English Etymology. Oxford: Clarendon.