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First documented in English in 1822, from Scots (where first recorded in 1808),[1][2][3][4] from earlier argle (argue obstinately, wrangle) used in English since 16th century, presumably from argue +‎ -le (frequentative), though possibly from Old Norse (Suio-Gothic) ierga[2] – possibly influenced by haggle[5] – plus rhyming reduplication, possibly from bargain, found in early variant aurgle-bargain (1720).[4][6]


argle-bargle (countable and uncountable, plural argle-bargles)

  1. (slang) A verbal argument.
    • 1992, Rebecca Ward, Grand Deception, page 43:
      Wendell and I have had our share of argle-bargles about the morality of hunting.
    • 2013, United States v. Windsor, 544 U.S. 744, 799 (2013) (Scalia, J., dissenting)
      As I have said, the real rationale of today’s opinion, whatever disappearing trail of its legalistic argle-bargle one chooses to follow, is that DOMA is motivated by '"bare . . . desire to harm"' couples in same-sex marriages.


argle-bargle (third-person singular simple present argle-bargles, present participle argle-bargling, simple past and past participle argle-bargled)

  1. (slang) To argue.

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  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “argle”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  2. 2.0 2.1 John Jamieson, Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Tongue. p. 82
  3. ^ Scalia's argle-bargle”, Ben Zimmer, Language Log, June 27, 2013
  4. 4.0 4.1 Words in the Courtroom, from Mobspeak to "Argle-Bargle", Ben Zimmer, Word Routes, June 27, 2013
  5. ^ Word Detective, Issue of January 5, 2006, “Put up your duke's.”, Evan Morris.
  6. ^ “But ’tis a Daffin to debate, / And aurgle-bargain with our Fate.” —Allan Ramsay, Poems, “The Rise and Fall of Stocks, 1720. An Epistle to the Right Honorable my Lord Ramsay.”, p. 270