Get two very young and very talkative children together, and you’re likely to hear a great deal of babbling and yammering. You may even hear some claptrap, mumbo jumbo or blather.

Is there any way to make sense of such nonsense? Not necessarily…

Gibberish (sometimes spelled jibberish) is the English word we use to describe talking that sounds like speech but has no real meaning. We also call meaningless text — such as r#df%pis*ou#ef$ghj(&H(*rdtj$W#H$ednlp;O$H@$ — “gibberish” or “gobbledygook.”

Gibberish is a funny word. Where did it come from? Some believe it comes from the Irish word gob or gab, which means “mouth.”

Others believe it comes from the island of Gibraltar, where residents speak an interesting mix of English, Spanish, Hebrew, Hindi and Arabic. Nonresidents often believe the natives are simply speaking… well… gibberish!

We can excuse small children for their gibberish. As we first learn to speak, it’s fun just to make sounds. It takes a while to figure out how to make our facial muscles work together to form true speech with meaning.

When we get older, we may speak in gibberish just for laughs. Some people, though, take gibberish so seriously that they use it to create their own language.

In this way, gibberish takes on meaning — a secret meaning known only to those who can speak the code!

Gibberish, when used as part of a language game, refers to the sound of the words that are spoken according to the rules of the game. Although they have meaning to those who know the rules of the game, they just sound like nonsense to others.

There are many different variations of gibberish language games in English-speaking countries. Let’s take a look at four examples of particular dialects of gibberish: -itheg-, -idig-, -uddag- and –uvug-.

To speak gibberish in these dialects, you simply add in the particular gibberish characters after the first syllable or sound of each word. Here are some examples of words translated into these four dialects of gibberish:

  • pig: pithegig, pidigig, puddagig, puvugig
  • frog: frithegog, fridigog, fruddagog, fruvugog

Of course, these are just simple examples. The rules can get very complicated very quickly when you begin to translate longer words with multiple syllables.

Just like a foreign language, gibberish can be hard to learn and understand. If you want to share secrets, though, gibberish might make a good code language!

 

31 Join the Discussion

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  1. 1. I think gibberish is a game in the 1960’s that a man teaches little kids a game each day.

    2. I think gibberish is a language in Paris and it means gobble.

    By Atalia

    • We like those answers, Atalia! We hope you are having a GREAT week and want to thank you for visiting Wonderopolis and leaving this awesome comment! :-)

  2. Pum revo wectoleperis! Zis waxas sust pit bunnupp axalticro te loaxad, pi Pum plemiso Pum wirr fo sulo te plaxandico vupp kiffolisk! Zaxants!!
    PS.
    I typed this message using the gibberish translator!

    • Thanks for leaving us a secret “gibberish” message today, Jamie! We’re glad you love Wonderopolis and that you had fun using the translator! Here is a secret gibberish message back to you:

      Ug’lo pit KLOAT Wectol Blioct! :-)

  3. That was awesome! But I have one question: is there some sort of book on how to translate the goobledygock?

    • That’s a GREAT question, Tucker! We’re not sure about that one, so we’ll both have to do a bit more WONDERing, won’t we? Thanks so much for hanging out in Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • Thanks for visiting the comments section of this Wonder again and leaving us another comment, Hudsen! We think you’re a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

    • We’re glad you had fun visiting this Wonder about gibberish, YoYo! It’s a fun “language” to learn and speak, isn’t it? :-)

    • Thanks for leaving us a gibberish message, Wonder Girl! How FUN! We’re glad you thought this Wonder of the Day® was AWESOME! :-)

  4. WOW that was awesome. Who made this language up!? If I did that I would say oke mock a do do which means you are awesome. Good stuff.

    • Hey Adam, or should we say “hkeya Akdama”! We’re not certain but some believe the Irish are responsible for gibberish! We think your gibberish phrase for “you are awesome” is super cool! Thanks for joining us today! :)

    • What a great gibberish word, Colin! Thanks for sharing your comment with us and using your imagination, too! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What is gibberish?
  • Where did the word gibberish come from?
  • Can gibberish have meaning?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

Are you ready to laugh? Playing language games can be a lot of fun… especially when nonsense is involved!

Grab a friend and pick out a couple of short stories or news articles to translate into either gibberish or pig latin. Here are a couple of handy online translators to help you:

When you’re finished translating, try to read the translation out loud as quickly as possible. Can your friend guess what you’re saying? Or is it all just gobbledygook? Take turns and have fun!

 

Still Wondering

Check out EDSITEment’s Edward Lear, Limericks, and Nonsense: A Little Nonsense lesson to learn about nonsense poetry as well as the various poetic techniques and devices that poets use to help their readers create a mental picture while reading or hearing poems.

 

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