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See also: imbróglio and imbrogliò



Borrowed from Italian imbroglio (tangle, entanglement, muddle) (im-, alternative form of in- (prefix forming verbs denoting derivation) + broglio (confusion; intrigue, fraud, rigging, stuffing); see also imbrogliare (to tangle)), cognate with and probably from an earlier form of French embrouiller (to embroil, muddle) (em- (em-), a form of en- (en-, prefix meaning ‘caused) + brouiller (to confuse, mix up)).



imbroglio (plural imbroglios or imbrogli)

  1. A complicated situation; an entanglement.
    • 1816, Thomas Gray, “A Long Story”, in John Mitford, editor, The Works of Thomas Gray; Vol. I Containing the Poems, with Critical Notes; a Life of the Author; and an Essay on His Poetry; by the Rev. John Mitford, volume I, London: Printed for J. Mawman, 39, Ludgate-Street, by S. Hamilton, Weybridge, Surrey, →OCLC, page 133, lines 65–68:
      Into the drawers and china pry, / Papers and books, a huge imbroglio! / Under a tea-cup he might lie, / Or creased, like dogs-ears, in a folio.
    • 2010 July, Erica Jong, “My Italy”, in Barrie Kerper, editor, Tuscany and Umbria: The Collected Traveler (An Inspired Companion Guide), New York, N.Y.: Vintage Departures, Vintage Books, →ISBN:
      Your trip here will never quite go as planned. [] There may be strikes, mixed-up reservations, maddening imbrogli of all sorts. But they will be charming imbrogli because the Italian people are charming, down to the whimsical tone of their language.
    • 2013, Frances Whiting, chapter 19, in Walking on Trampolines, Sydney, N.S.W.: Pan Macmillan Australia, →ISBN; trade paperback edition, New York, N.Y.: Gallery Books, February 2015, →ISBN page 207:
      I could have phoned you with all this, Tallulah, but knowing you as I have over the years, when you and I have both been a party to some of Duncan's little imbroglios, I thought I should talk to you in person.
    • 2015, Judith Bendheim Guedalia, “Stop and Smell the Flowers”, in A Neuropsychologist’s Journal: Interventions and “Judi-isms”, Jerusalem, New York, N.Y.: Urim Publications, →ISBN, page 240:
      He [Edward Michael Adler] was inducted into the imbroglio of the Vietnam War, which so many of his age group and middle class Orthodox Jewish upbringing easily avoided by staying in university or going into the clergy. He didn't.
    • 2015, Denis MacShane, “A Centrifugal Europe”, in Brexit: How Britain Will Leave Europe, London: I.B. Tauris, →ISBN, page 21:
      [David] Cameron's decision to hold a referendum alters the chemistry of politics. The casual way he offered a simple Yes–No referendum to Scotland in 2011 has led to a quasi-insoluble imbroglio over the future of the British Constitution.


Related terms[edit]




From Italian imbroglio (tangle), from imbrogliare (to tangle), cognate with and probably from an earlier form of French embrouiller (muddle, embroil), from em- (en-) + brouiller. Doublet of embrouille.


  • IPA(key): /ɛ̃.bʁɔ.ljo/, (proscribed but common) /ɛ̃.bʁɔ.ɡ


imbroglio m (plural imbroglios)

  1. a complicated situation; an entanglement

Further reading[edit]



  • IPA(key): /imˈbrɔʎ.ʎo/
  • Rhymes: -ɔʎʎo
  • Hyphenation: im‧brò‧glio

Etymology 1[edit]

From imbrogliare (to tangle), cognate with and probably from an earlier form of French embrouiller (muddle, embroil), from em- (en-) + brouiller.


imbroglio m (plural imbrogli)

  1. tangle, entanglement, muddle, scrape
    Synonyms: impiccio, intrico, pasticcio
  2. cheat, swindle, trick, diddle, fraud
    Synonyms: frode, inganno, truffa
Related terms[edit]
Further reading[edit]
  • imbroglio in – Vocabolario Treccani on line, Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana

Etymology 2[edit]

See the etymology of the corresponding lemma form.



  1. first-person singular present indicative of imbrogliare



Unadapted borrowing from Italian imbroglio.


imbroglio n (plural imbrogliouri)

  1. imbroglio