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noun, plural im·bro·glios.
  1. a misunderstanding, disagreement, etc., of a complicated or bitter nature, as between persons or nations.
  2. an intricate and perplexing state of affairs; a complicated or difficult situation.
  3. a confused heap.
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Also embroglio.

Origin of imbroglio

1740–50; < Italian, derivative of imbrogliare to embroil
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for imbroglio


noun plural -glios
  1. a confused or perplexing political or interpersonal situation
  2. obsolete a confused heap; jumble
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Word Origin

C18: from Italian, from imbrogliare to confuse, embroil
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 imbroglio


1750, from Italian imbroglio, from imbrogliare "confuse, tangle," from assimilated form of in- "into, in, on, upon" (see in- (2)) + brogliare "embroil," probably from Middle French brouiller "confuse" (see broil (2); also cf. embroil).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper