Gibberish is a generic term in English for talking that sounds like speech, but has no actual meaning. This meaning has also been extended to meaningless text or gobbledygook. The common theme in gibberish statements is a lack of literal sense, which can also be described as a presence of nonsense. In the realm of computers, the displaying or printing of binary (non-text) data due to a fault in hardware and/or software is called gibberish (e.g. simulated by entering "TYPE C:WINDOWSSYSTEM32CMD.EXE" or "cat /bin/sh").

A family of language games in English are sometimes referred to as "Gibberish". Comedian Sid Caesar was noted for what he called "double-talk", an ability to speak varieties of nonsense syllables that sounded (to Americans) as if he was speaking various foreign languages.

Origin of the term

The term is first seen in English in the early 16th century [cite book
last = Chantrell
first = Glynnis
title = The Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories
publisher = Oxford University Press
date= 2002
location = Oxford
pages = 231
] . The word comes from the name of the famous 8th-century Islamic alchemist, Jabir ibn Hayyan, whose name was Latinized as "Geber", thus the term "gibberish" arose as a reference to the incomprehensible technical jargon often used by Jabir and other alchemists who followed. [citation|first=Glenn T.|last=Seaborg|title=Our heritage of the elements|journal=Metallurgical and Materials Transactions B|publisher=Springer Boston|volume=11|issue=1|date=March 1980|pages=5-19]

A Second expanation is from the British colony Gibraltar (from Arabic Gabal-Tariq meaning Mountain of Tariq), whose residents frequently speak in Spanish and English during their conversations. Gibraltarians will often start a sentence in Spanish and switch to English halfway through, making it difficult for non-locals to follow.

Also known as Jess talk.

ee also

*Double Dutch
*Jabberwocky — English poem written in nonsense
*The Ketchup Song
*Lorem ipsum
*Macarron Chacarron - song with (Spanish) nonsense lyrics
*Mojibake — Random nonsense characters generated by foreign text
*Mumbo Jumbo (phrase)
*Scat singing

External links

* [ A statistical gibberish generator] based on Markov chains
* [ Pronounceable gibberish generator]
* [ The Online Dictionary of Language Terminology]
* [ Bendonium World]


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  • gibberish — gibberish, mummery, hocus pocus, abracadabra are comparable as terms of contempt applied to something which is in itself unintelligible or meaningless to the person concerned. They are often used interchangeably but are not true synonyms.… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • gibberish — gib ber*ish (j[i^]b b[ e]r*[i^]sh or g[i^]b b[ e]r*[i^]sh), n. [From {Gibber}, v. i.] 1. Rapid and inarticulate talk; unintelligible language; unmeaning words. [1913 Webster] He, like a gypsy, oftentimes would go; All kinds of gibberish he had… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Gibberish — Gib ber*ish, a. Unmeaning; as, gibberish language. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • gibberish — index jargon (unintelligible language) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • gibberish — 1550s, imitative of the sound of chatter, probably influenced by JABBER (Cf. jabber). Used early 17c. of the language of rogues and gypsies …   Etymology dictionary

  • gibberish — [n] nonsense talk babble, balderdash*, blah blah*, blather, chatter, claptrap*, double talk*, drivel, gobbledygook*, hocuspocus*, jabber*, jargon, mumbo jumbo*, palaver*, prattle, scat*, twaddle*, yammer*; concept 278 Ant. sense …   New thesaurus

  • gibberish — ► NOUN ▪ unintelligible or meaningless speech or writing; nonsense …   English terms dictionary

  • gibberish — [jib′ər ish] n. [< GIBBER] rapid and incoherent talk; unintelligible chatter; jargon …   English World dictionary

  • gibberish — [[t]ʤɪ̱bərɪʃ[/t]] N UNCOUNT If you describe someone s words or ideas as gibberish, you mean that they do not make any sense. When he was talking to a girl he could hardly speak, and when he did speak he talked gibberish. Syn: nonsense …   English dictionary

  • gibberish — gib|ber|ish [ˈdʒıbərıʃ] n [U] [Date: 1500 1600; Origin: Probably from gibber] something you write or say that has no meaning, or is very difficult to understand = ↑nonsense ▪ You re talking gibberish ! …   Dictionary of contemporary English