[bab-uh l; Russian bah-byil]


I·saak Em·ma·nu·i·lo·vich [ahy-zuh k; Russian ee-sahk yi-muh-noo-yee-luh-vyich] /ˈaɪ zək; Russian iˈsɑk yɪ mə nuˈyi lə vyɪtʃ/, 1894–1941, Russian author.


[bey-buhl, bab-uhl]


an ancient city in the land of Shinar in which the building of a tower (Tower of Babel) intended to reach heaven was begun and the confusion of the language of the people took place. Gen. 11:4–9.
(usually lowercase) a confused mixture of sounds or voices.
(usually lowercase) a scene of noise and confusion.

Origin of Babel

From the Hebrew word Bābhel Babylon
Related formsBa·bel·ic [bey-bel-ik, ba-] /beɪˈbɛl ɪk, bæ-/, adjective

Synonyms for Babel Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for babel

Contemporary Examples of babel

Historical Examples of babel

  • This stone was thrown at the sainted Stephen, and the other two are from the Tower of Babel.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Between its Babel towers narrow Nassau Street was like a canyon.

  • "By Babel streams I have sat and wept" almost ever since I wrote you last.

  • Marcia entered her mother's sitting-room in the midst of what seemed a babel of voices.

    The Coryston Family

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

  • It could scarcely be heard above the Babel of tongues which was sounding.

    The First Violin

    Jessie Fothergill

British Dictionary definitions for babel




Old Testament
  1. Also called: Tower of Babela tower presumptuously intended to reach from earth to heaven, the building of which was frustrated when Jehovah confused the language of the builders (Genesis 11:1–9)
  2. the city, probably Babylon, in which this tower was supposedly built
(often not capital)
  1. a confusion of noises or voices
  2. a scene of noise and confusion

Word Origin for Babel

from Hebrew Bābhél, from Akkadian Bāb-ilu, literally: gate of God




Issak Emmanuilovich (iˈsak imənuˈiləvitʃ) 1894–1941, Russian short-story writer, whose works include Stories from Odessa (1924) and Red Cavalry (1926)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for babel


capital of Babylon, late 14c., from Hebrew Babhel (Gen. xi), from Akkadian bab-ilu "Gate of God" (from bab "gate" + ilu "god"). The name is a translation of Sumerian Ka-dingir. Meaning "confused medley of sounds" (1520s) is from the biblical story of the Tower of Babel.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper