Printable Version
Pronunciation: bli-dhêr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive (No objects)

Meaning: Talk nonsense, long-winded babble, blather, prattle.

Notes: I've used the expression 'blithering idiot' since childhood, at which point I didn't know the meaning of blither. It may be used as a noun meaning "nonsensical talk". Australians use blitherer in reference to an annoying person.

In Play: Although blather is far more popular than blither on both sides of the Atlantic, blither still has its place in the English vocabulary: "Myna Bird blithered endlessly about her arthritis at dinner last night." Or we might hear something like this: "Horace Wimpole is an extroverted verbal bully who blithers on forever about whatever."

Word History: Most etymologists think blither is just a variant of blether, which is a Scottish variant of blather. All have the same meaning and are phonetically so similar as to corroborate this explanation. Blather was borrowed from Old Norse (Viking) blathra "talk nonsense", the verbal usage of the noun blathr "nonsense". This word seems to come from Proto-Germanic blodram "something inflated", source of Dutch blaas "bladder" and blaar "blister" and English bladder. All these words come from PIE bhleu-/bhlou- "to blow", including English blow, German blasen "to blow", and Dutch blazen "to blow".

Dr. Goodword,

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