Printable Version
Pronunciation: blæ-dhêr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass; Verb, intransitive

Meaning: 1. [Noun] Nonsense, gibberish, verbal rambling. 2. [Verb] Ramble on meaninglessly, jabber nonsense.

Notes: We can't decide which vowel we want to use in this word: blather, blether, blither all mean the same thing. Blithering is used today simply to mean "bothersome" in expressions like blithering idiot. An idle chatterer, however, is either bletherskite or blatherskite. Of course, we can also keep it simple and use blatherer—but what fun would that be? Skite is also a mispronunciation of skate "broken down nag, despicable person".

In Play: Feel free to use this word as a noun: "All that talk about Jason Rainbow leaving town and starting a new life is just a bowl of blather," or a verb: "The US political system allows presidential candidates to blather for twelve consecutive months, far more than other nations can stand it."

Word History: The TH in today's Good Word gives away its Germanic origins. It was borrowed from Old Norse blaðra "to ramble on stupidly" and the noun blaðr "nonsense". Blather is the etymological original. It is pronounced blether in Scotland and Northern England. The southern British further reduced it to blithering. Blather is a derivation from the Germanic word for blow, which includes, well, blow itself. Another word in this family is bladder. What have bladders to do with blowing? Well, the Scots in particular like to prepare an animal bladder by sewing it up and attaching flutes to it, blow it up with air, and play it as though it were a musical instrument. The Scots call this creation bagpipes. (We are not just blathering when we express our true appreciation to Colin Burt for suggesting today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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