Origin of garbage

1400–50; late Middle English: discarded parts of butchered fowls; compared with garbelage the removal of waste from spices (< Anglo-French, Old French; see garble, -age) or Old French garbage tax on sheaves of grain, though shift of sense, and form in first case, is unclear

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

Examples from the Web for garbage

Contemporary Examples of garbage

Historical Examples of garbage

  • "Cleansing fires for that sort of garbage," he said finally.

  • He drained the bottle; then hurled it into the garbage pail with a resounding crash.

    The Doorway

    Evelyn E. Smith

  • A mound of garbage crowned with the dead body of a dog arrested us not.


    Joseph Conrad

  • Describe the method used in his community in disposing of garbage.

    Boy Scouts Handbook

    Boy Scouts of America

  • We then specified places at which garbage, etc., should be dumped.

British Dictionary definitions for garbage



worthless, useless, or unwanted matter
Also called: rubbish discarded or waste matter; refuse
computing invalid data
informal nonsense

Word Origin for garbage

C15: probably from Anglo-French garbelage removal of discarded matter, of uncertain origin; compare Old Italian garbuglio confusion
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 garbage

early 15c., "giblets of a fowl, waste parts of an animal," later confused with garble in its sense of "siftings, refuse." Perhaps some senses derive from Old French garbe "a bundle of sheaves, entrails," from Proto-Germanic *garba- (cf. Dutch garf, German garbe "sheaf"), from PIE *ghrebh- "a handful, a grasp." Sense of "refuse, filth" is first attested 1580s; used figuratively for "worthless stuff" from 1590s. Garbology "study of waste as a social science" is from 1976.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper