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Blather vs blabber

Blather and blabber are two words with meanings that overlap in many ways. However, there is one meaning that is specific to only one of these words. We’ll compare the words blabber and blather, look at their origins and a few examples of their use in sentences.

Blather means to speak foolishly, to go on and on without making any sense, to speak long-windedly about inconsequential matters. The word blather has its origins in Scotland. During the eighth through fifteenth centuries, Vikings expanded into Scotland and settled colonies. Scandinavians brought there own language of course, including the Old Norse word blaðra which means wag the tongue or mutter. Blather is a verb, and is sometimes rendered as blether or blither. Related words are blathers, blathered, blathering.


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Blabber also means to speak foolishly, to go on and on without making any sense, to speak long-windedly about inconsequential matters. However, blabber has an additional meaning: to speak indiscreetly, to let out a piece of information that should be kept confidential, to tell something without thinking. Often the shorter word blab is used for this meaning. The word blabber comes the word blabberen, which is probably a word that echos the babbling of an infant. Blabber is a verb, related words are blabbers, blabbered, blabbering. Related words for the shortened version, blab, are blabs, blabbed, blabbing.

Examples

I just cannot sit idly by and allow Brownback’s blather to go out over the airwaves without clearing the dismal record one more time. (The Kansas City Star)

Apparently, Jay Ambrose thinks the best way to combat what he calls the “blather” of those who question U.S. trade policy is to respond with more blather (“Freely blathering about free trade,” Commentary, May 1). (The Providence Journal)

“On the one hand, he says the film resulted in loss, and on the other, he has been saying the distributors are just jacking up the box office revenue. He is just blabbering.” (The Times of India)

Once blabbed, your secret signal wouldn’t be secret any more. (The Canberra Times)

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