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Etymology 1[edit]

(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)


warble (third-person singular simple present warbles, present participle warbling, simple past and past participle warbled)

  1. (transitive) To modulate a tone's frequency.
  2. (transitive) To sing like a bird, especially with trills.
    • a. 1722, Matthew Prior, “Non Pareil”, in H. Bunker Wright, Monroe K. Spears, editors, The Literary Works of Matthew Prior, Second edition, volume I, Oxford: Clarendon Press, published 1971, page 683:
      Her voice more sweet than warbling sound,
      Tho’ sung by nightingale or lark,
      Her eyes such lustre dart around,
      Compar’d to them the sun is dark.
  3. (transitive) To cause to quaver or vibrate.
  4. (intransitive) To be quavered or modulated; to be uttered melodiously.
    • 1714, J[ohn] Gay, “Wednesday; or, The Dumps”, in The Shepherd’s Week. In Six Pastorals, London: [] R. Burleigh [], →OCLC, page 21:
      The wailings of a maiden I recite, / A maiden fair, that Sparabella hight. / Such ſtrains ne'er warble in the linnet's throat, / Nor the gay goldfinch chaunts ſo ſweet a note, [...]
  • (to modulate a tone's frequency): trill
Derived terms[edit]


warble (countable and uncountable, plural warbles)

  1. The sound of one who warbles; singing with trills or modulations.
  2. (military) In naval mine warfare, the process of varying the frequency of sound produced by a narrowband noisemaker to ensure that the frequency to which the mine will respond is covered.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English werble (at least for the noun), from Frankish *werbel (mole cricket), cognate to Walloon waerbea.


warble (plural warbles)

  1. A lesion under the skin of cattle, caused by the larva of a bot fly of genus Hypoderma.
  2. A small hard swelling on a horse's back, caused by the galling of the saddle.
Derived terms[edit]