Gobbledygook or gobbledegook (sometimes shortened to gobbledegoo, gobbledeegook or other forms ) is an English term used to describe nonsensical language, sound that resembles or unintelligible encrypted text.


Gobbledygook was coined by U.S. Rep. Maury Maverick in a 30 March 1944 memo banning "gobbledygook language" at the Smaller War Plants Corporation. It was a reaction to his frustration with the "convoluted language of bureaucrats. He made up the word as an onomatopoeic imitation of a turkey's gobble.


Nixon's Oval Office tape from June 14 shows H. R. Haldeman describing the situation to Nixon.

"To the ordinary guy, all this is a bunch of gobbledygook. But out of the gobbledygook comes a very clear thing: you can't trust the government; you can't believe what they say; and you can't rely on their judgment. And the implicit infallibility of presidents, which has been an accepted thing in America, is badly hurt by this, because it shows that people do things the President wants to do even though it's wrong, and the President can be wrong."

Former United States President Ronald Reagan explained tax law revisions in an address to the nation, 28 May 1985:

"Most (tax revisions) didn’t improve the system, they made it more like Washington itself: complicated, unfair, cluttered with gobbledygook and loopholes designed for those with the power and influence to hire high-priced legal and tax advisers.

Former Irish tennis star Bryan Crowley when describing his chat with the two Danish heroes abroad in San Luis Obispo :"Them Danish lads have perfect English, but when they speak their own language it sounds like a haype of Gobblydegook."

Michael Shanks, former chairman to the National Consumer Council of Great Britain, characterizes professional gobbledygook as sloppy jargon intended to confuse nonspecialists:

"Gobbledygook may indicate a failure to think clearly, a contempt for one's clients, or more probably a mixture of both. A system that can't or won't communicate is not a safe basis for a democracy.

The Plain English Campaign FAQ includes the following explanation:

"What's wrong with gobbledygook? We can't put it any better than a nurse who wrote about a baffling memo. She said that 'receiving information in this form makes us feel hoodwinked, inferior, definitely frustrated and angry, and it causes a divide between us and the writer.'

In popular culture

J.K. Rowling makes "Gobbledegook" the language of goblins in the Harry Potter novels, specifically Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, in which Albus Dumbledore and Bartemius Crouch can speak gobbledegook fluently. Ludo Bagman knows one word: Bladvak ("pickaxe").

In the film Thirteen, the two main characters use a form of gobbledygook as their secret language to separate themselves from their parents.

Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós's first single off their album Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust is titled Gobbledigook.

Gobbledegook was a comic fantasy goblin character appearing in the magazine White Dwarf up until about issue 100, usually being 1/3 to a full page in length and appearing semi-regularly

In other languages

In English, other common idioms indicating difficulty in understanding complicated language are: "It is all Greek to me" or "talking double Dutch". For complicated written language, a common expression is that something is "written in hieroglyphics".

In Greek, when one talks with nonsensical, specialized or generally uncommon word choices, he is said to speak "alabournezica" (αλαμπουρνέζικα, Alamburnese), a fictitious language. When somebody talks gibberish it's "acatalavistica" {ακαταλαβίστικα} (i.e. "ununderstandables"). The quivalent phrase to the American "It's all Greek to me!" is "You're speaking Chinese;" pronounced, "cinezica" {κινέζικα, Chinese}.

Ironically, when the same happens in Portuguese, it is said that he is talking Greek (estou falando grego?), Latin (isto para mim é latim) or Chinese (eu falei chinês?). In French, the slang word for gobbledygook is "le charabia". It is used informally in conversations. In Italian also we say to speak Arabian (parli arabo??). Three similar-meaning words appear in Russian: "Beliberda", "Tarabarshchina" and "Abracadabra". Grammatically, they work in a similar way to a language, and refer to nonsense talk. The Finnish corresponding term is kapulakieli (cudgel language), referring to haughty, high-spirited and unintelligible office language.

This word has been voted as one of the ten English words that were hardest to translate in June 2004 by a British translation company.

See also


External links

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