Wobble vs warble

Photo of author


Wobble and warble are two words that are very close in pronunciation and spelling, but have different meanings. We will examine the definitions of wobble and warble, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Wobble means to move side to side in a jiggly fashion, to move unsteadily in a particular fashion as if unbalanced, an oscillation in one’s movements. Wobble is also used figuratively to mean to vacillate, to waver in one’s convictions or in one’s course of action. Wobble is occasionally used to mean a quiver in one’s voice, usually due to nerves, extreme emotion or failing health. Wobble may be used as a noun or a verb. The word wobble is derived from the English word wabble, which in turn was derived from the Low German word, wabbeln. Related words are wobbles, wobbled, wobbling, wobbler, wobbly.

Warble describes a particular type of singing voice, one that is soft, vibrating and harmonic. The manner in which a bird sings is often described as a warble. A human voice may also be described as a warble, particularly when the singer moves his breath over his tongue and his vocal cords in his larynx in a manner that creates a vibrato, or a manner in which his breathing causes the vocal cords in his throat to vibrate in an excessive manner. A warble may also be described as a trill or a quaver in one’s voice. The warble is a change in frequency, and can be stirring when many voices in a chorus sing together. The word warble is also used to mean an abscess under the skin or a lump or swelling under the skin caused by a botfly larva. The larva of a botfly is called a bot or a maggot. Botflies are also known as warble flies. The insects lay their eggs on mammals, and the larvae hatch, emerge and then burrow into the host animal’s skin. This is a parasitic infection or infestation known as myasis, which is treated by removing the larva cyst with forceps, cleaning the flesh, and perhaps administering an antibiotic. All mammals may be victims of the botfly, including sheep, deer, cattle, horses, and even rabbits and rodents, as well as humans. A warble may be fatal if it becomes infected, and the victim becomes septic. Warble may be used as a noun or a verb, related words are warbles, warbled, warbling, warbler. The word warble is derived from the Old French word werbler which means to trill one’s voice.


Scientists don’t anticipate there is anything to fear from slightly more axis wobble, but this is useful information to better understand the planet we live on. (Popular Mechanics Magazine)

Stocks are wobbling in midday trading on Wall Street as losses for big technology companies and banks cancel out gains elsewhere in the market. (The Tampa Bay Times)

Along with a White House messaging push, described Monday by my colleague Elaina Plott, Kavanaugh’s intent with the letter seemed to be to calm Republican senators who had begun to wobble, worried that voting for Kavanaugh might hurt the party in November, and whisper about withdrawal. (The Atlantic)

The delicate warble in her rendition of the Band Perry’s crossover smash “If I Die Young” was indeed reminiscent of Parton’s early career, but Shepherd appears determined to forge her own path. (Rolling Stone Magazine)

This lump was known as a warble, and, because of its habit of forming such lumps on various kinds of mammals, including cattle and sheep, farmers commonly called her species a warble fly, and they hated her with a passion. (The Star Journal)