J is for Jibber-Jabber

B56E50C7-0D5E-4AF9-8DD2-874AB25EC1D0When I was a kid, my father, who was a very opinionated man, used to accuse anyone who expressed opinions with which he disagreed to be jibber-jabbering. I never bothered to ask him what jibber-jabbering actual was. I just knew intuitively that, to him, jibber-jabber was foolish or worthless talk, or, essentially, nonsense.

I never gave the term “jibber-jabber” much thought outside of my father’s use of it until one day when I whispered to a friend of mine at a school assembly that someone who was speaking was jibber-jabbering away. He looked at me quizzically and said, “You mean talking gibberish, right?”

“Yeah, gibberish,” I said. I was embarrassed because I thought my father, who was an immigrant, had heard the word “gibberish” and had replaced the actual word with his own made-up, but similar sounding concoction, “jibber-jabber.”

But yesterday, when I was drawing a blank about what “J-word” to use for today’s A to Z Challenge, I Googled “words that start with J,” and, lo and behold, there was “jibber-jabber.”

It turns out that my father did not, in fact, concoct the word “jibber-jabber.” The word “gibberish” dates back to the mid 1500s and was actually an adaptation of “jibber-jabber.”

And none other than Lewis Carroll capitalized on the meaning of the word “jabber” (talking rapidly and excitedly but with little sense) in his nonsense-based, epic-style poem “Jabberwocky,” which first appeared in Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (his sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) in 1871.

So consider this post to be a formal apology to my late father for thinking that he was speaking gibberish when he talked about people who were jibber-jabbering.

And with that, I think that I will stop jibber-jabbering right now.

Previous A to Z Challenge 2019 posts:

28 thoughts on “J is for Jibber-Jabber

  1. Paula Light April 11, 2019 / 6:16 am

    I like to use variation of these words to describe my own meanderings, usually deleted before posting. Jabberish is a fave I’ve made up. Love the Jabberwocky poem!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. newepicauthor April 11, 2019 / 7:02 am

    Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi was a 9th-century Muslim mathematician and astronomer. He is known as the “father of algebra”, a word derived from the title of his book, Kitab al-Jabr. People that could not understand this new form of math started calling it gibberish.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 11, 2019 / 8:29 am

      Solving for X always seemed like gibberish to me, too.


  3. BlackSheep April 11, 2019 / 8:01 am

    Have you ever seen the 1977 movie adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s poem? It’s been a long time for me, but I remember it being pretty funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Marleen April 11, 2019 / 8:52 am

    Yeah, I heard of jibber-jabber as a kid… probably used the term some.

    Liked by 1 person

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