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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1872, nonsense word (perhaps based on jabber) coined by Lewis Carroll, for the poem of the same name, which he published in "Through the Looking-Glass." The poem is about a fabulous beast called the Jabberwock.


a. 1 meaningless, worthless 2 absurd, nonsense, nonsensical n. invented or meaningless language; nonsense


n. nonsensical language (according to Lewis Carroll)


"Jabberwocky" is a nonsense poem written by Lewis Carroll about the killing of an animal called "the Jabberwock". It was included in his 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, a sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The book tells of Alice's adventures within the back-to-front world of a looking glass.

In an early scene in which she first encounters the chess piece characters White King and White Queen, Alice finds a book written in a seemingly unintelligible language. Realising that she is travelling through an inverted world, she recognises that the verses on the pages are written in mirror-writing. She holds a mirror to one of the poems, and reads the reflected verse of "Jabberwocky". She finds the nonsense verse as puzzling as the odd land she has passed into, later revealed as a dreamscape.

"Jabberwocky" is considered one of the greatest nonsense poems written in English. Its playful, whimsical language has given English nonsense words and neologisms such as "galumphing" and "chortle".

Jabberwocky (film)

Jabberwocky is a 1977 British fantasy film co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam. It stars Michael Palin as a young cooper who is forced through clumsy, often slapstick misfortunes to hunt a terrible dragon after the death of his father. The film's title is taken from the nonsense poem " Jabberwocky" from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass (1871).

The film, Gilliam's first as a solo director, received a mixed response from critics and audiences. It has become a cult film. Despite its unpopularity, Jabberwocky established Gilliam's visual style and dark humour.

Jabberwocky (TV series)

Jabberwocky was a daily children's TV show designed for 5-10 year-olds that eventually went into national syndication. The original series ran Monday through Friday for over two seasons, from 1972 to 1974, on WCVB in Boston; the nationally syndicated version ran weekly and was rerun in the wee hours of Saturday mornings by many TV stations up until the 1990s.

Jabberwocky (disambiguation)

" Jabberwocky" is an 1872 nonsense poem by Lewis Carroll, about an encounter between a young boy and a monster called the Jabberwock.

Jabberwocky or Jabberwock may also refer to:

Jabberwocky (card game)

Jabberwocky is a card game of the trick-taking variety, played by 3 to 5 players with a standard deck of cards and pencil and paper for scoring.

Its object is to bet the number of tricks one is estimating to make and to fulfill this bet (which scores a point). The player who fulfills the most bets after 13 turns wins the game, and more than one player may tie it.

It may have originated on the Island of Hawaiʻi in the early 1980s. This game was also played in Austria at about the same time.

Jabberwocky (1971 film)

Jabberwocky is a 1971 Czechoslovak animated short film written and directed by Jan Švankmajer, based loosely on the poem " Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll. It was produced by Erna Kmínková, Marta Sichová, Jirí Vanek, and animated by Vlasta Pospísilová.

Jabberwocky (album)

Jabberwocky is a progressive rock album released in 1999 by British keyboardists Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman. It was the first of two albums released by the duo.

Jabberwocky (musical)

Jabberwocky, an adult pantomime by Andrew Kay, Malcolm Middleton and Peter Phillips, is a musical based on the English poem of the same name by Lewis Carroll. The music, book and lyrics are by Malcolm Middleton, Andrew Kay and Peter Philips, with additional material by Robert Kay and by many members of the original cast. The plot takes the form of a quest, in which the Son searches for the Jabberwock and ultimately kills it. Jabberwocky was originally presented at the Union Theatre, Sydney University, in March, 1973.

Jabberwocky (band)

Jabberwocky sometimes stylized as JBBRWCK is a French electropop band. It was formed in 2013 by three young French producers, Camille Camara, Simon Pasquer, and Emmanuel Bretou, still studying medicine and all originating from Poitiers, France. They became famous with the single "Photomaton" featuring the vocals of Elodie Wildstars. The single and the music video were produced by the music collective Pain Surprises.

Usage examples of "jabberwocky".

Walking, stumbling, sidling, Janice felt herself drowning as she pushed through wee mad clusters along the western shore of Jabberwocky, hysteria rising, building, surging until screaming became the only possible antidote.

The rolling data stream fluttered by as a pointless jabberwocky of drunken, jumbled graphics and erratic, haphazard numbers.

It has seemed impossible to a man who is not a Frenchman, and who is, therefore, tremendously excited over the case, to avoid discussion of the Jabberwocky of the Rennes court-martial as it is reported in America and England.

Their netmail was mostly jabberwocky even after Relay's best interpretation.