Podcast confabulate

Printable Version
Pronunciation: kên--byê-layt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To converse casually, gab, chatter, chew the fat. 2. To fabricate filling for the gaps in memory, to mix fact with fiction intentionally or unintentionally.

Notes: Today's word comes from a large and happy family. The noun is, as expected, confabulation, and the adjective, confabulatory. Someone who readily confuses fact with fiction is a confabulator.

In Play: The first meaning of today's word is simply to gab: "When Hardy and Sandy Beech wake up in the middle of night together they often confabulate for several minutes before going back to sleep." The second meaning is by far the more intriguing in light of today's politics: "Constanza confabulated a resume from facts about jobs she had held and wishful thinking about how she performed on them."

Word History: Today's word comes from the past participle of Latin confabulari, confabulatus. This word is made up of con "with, together" + fabulari "to speak, talk". The base verb is a variation of fabula "speech, conversation", the noun of fari "to speak". It also went into the making of fabula "story, tale", from which we borrowed fable. The same root came through Germanic history and ended up in Old English as fae. This word caem down to Modern English as both Fay(e) and fairy, beings known for their enchanting speech. People gifted with the blarney, of course, are affable, a prefixed form of the same root. (We complete today's Good Word by conveying, without confabulation, our gratitude to Chris Berry for nominating it.)

Dr. Goodword,

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