Definition of babel in English:



  • 1A confused noise made by a number of voices.

    ‘the babel of voices on the road’
    • ‘Cartoonists fall somewhere between these two: the commentless photographs which bear witness to events; and the babel arising from the pundits.’
    • ‘Hence the babel of Scottish accents on the UK network.’
    • ‘Larva echoes this multiplicity of tongues, a babel of aliens.’
    • ‘Out of the babel of writers' voices offering their services, one dominated, that of Peter Nichols.’
    • ‘He wishes the tower to stand both for the babel of nonsense which comprised the Congressional impeachment hearings and for what he sees as the seven stages of ethical hell into which all participants have plunged.’
    • ‘The city was in an uproar and the god Enlil heard the clamor and he said to the god in the council, ‘The uproar of mankind is intolerable and sleep is no longer possible by reason of the babel.’’
    • ‘Worse, the babel of messages from amateurs produced conflicting news about whether the ship was safe.’
    • ‘Though the Liars' cuts are supremely inaccessible, moody pieces, their chaotic, indecipherable babel plays against Oneida's monolithic tower.’
    • ‘Confusionism: the chairman allows the discussion to decay into a babel of competing speeches and conversations, then announces that a vote has been taken.’
    • ‘They claim to have ‘the gift of tongues; ‘and to be able to comprehend the babel.’’
    • ‘With what a babel of discordant voices does it [medicine] celebrate its two thousand years of experience!’
    • ‘And yet he has been rejected by a polyglot babel of 25 countries, and the will of the people of Italy has been frustrated.’
    • ‘With songs in Spanish, English, Mayan, and Zapotec, it reflects the babel of voices that is our ever-expanding border region.’
    • ‘Scottish accents could still be heard amid the Australian babel, but the immigrants were far outnumbered by the Australian-born claiming Scots origin.’
    • ‘What is left is a babel of talk, of contrasting idiolects delineating the diverse characters, again well illustrated by Miola.’
    • ‘The fair was like the crazy opposite of the academy, turning its demonstrations and its messages into a chaotic babel.’
    • ‘Her reverie was broken by a babel of voices, the approach of running feet, and suddenly her vision was filled with Theo's aghast features.’
    • ‘It would be a veritable babel here if it weren't so damn quiet!’
    • ‘In short, there was a babel of protest and lamentation.’
    • ‘Said I, when the babel-like din could be tolerated no longer.’
    • ‘This man's message is this, that amidst the babel of voices in our world, there is another word-and the essence of wisdom is to listen to this word.’
    clamour, din, racket, confused noise, tumult, uproar, hubbub
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A confused situation.
      ‘the potential for confusion in this babel of textual formats is enormous’
      • ‘If we turn to various explanations of how these incidents come about and how to prevent them, we face a babel of opinions.’
      • ‘I argue that to accept the babel of multiple and incommensurable publics is to surrender to the Babylon of an alienating governance such as the Jews fell under during their Babylonian captivity.’
      • ‘Each of them a million cities, a babel of troubles, secrets, losses.’
      • ‘Even though Europe is a babel, while the United States is all one nation, under God and indivisible, for some reason - at least as far as our male golfers and basketball heroes are concerned - we don't play very well together.’
      • ‘There's just one little problem - the babel of compression types, encryption methods, data formats, transmission techniques and other standards that make it difficult to get everything communicating properly with everything else.’
      • ‘Where would all those self-interested snouts turn for sustenance if shoo'd away from the trough of taxpayer monies that currently funds the babel of ethnic councils and advocates of cultural separatism.’


Early 16th century: from Babel (see Tower of Babel), where, according to the biblical story, God made the builders all speak different languages.