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unclear and difficult to understand (message)


garbled = verstümmelt, entstellt garbled information = verstümmelte Information garbled signal = gestörtes Signal ( --- GOOGLE INDEX garbled: approximately 3,200,000



The sound system on new subway trains in New York, with pre-recorded understandable messages, is a vast improvement over the GARBLED announcements of the past.

(Business Week magazine)

Did you


- mixed up or distorted to such an extent as to make misleading or incomprehensible

- scrambled (a signal or message), as by erroneous encoding or faulty transmission

(The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


Garbled developed from the Middle English garbelen, to inspect and remove refuse from spices, which can be traced to the Anglo-Norman garbeler, meaning to sift and from the Medieval Latin garbellre. Garbeler and garbellre are both from the Arabic word arbala, meaning to select and from irbl, sieve.

When Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, he was fully aware of the significance of the event. He carefully prepared a message for transmission back to Earth that would be heard on televisions around the world. In his bulky space suit and dealing with a force of gravity one-sixth that of the Earth’s, Armstrong slowly backed down the ladder of the Eagle landing craft and said:

"One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Or did he? Armstrong, backed by a number of experts, claims he actually said "That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." The "a" between for and man was apparently obscured by static, making his line one of the world’s most famous garbled quotes.

Greek*, ambiguous, breaking up, double Dutch, equivocal, fathomless, inarticulate, incoherent, incomprehensible, indecipherable, indistinct, inexplicit, jumbled, meaningless, muddled, obscure, opaque, tenebrous, uncertain, unclear, unfathomable, ungraspable, unknowable, vague

(Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus)

*This comes from a Medieval Latin proverb "Graecum est; non potest legi" (It is Greek; it cannot be read), though it’s usually attributed to William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar: "Those that understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads; but for mine own part, it was Greek to me." The phrase "it’s Greek to me" or "it’s all Greek to me", meaning something cannot be understood, is still commonly heard.

comprehensible, intelligible, understandable

(Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus)

say something like:

"I must have a computer virus, all my files are garbled!"

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