from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To sing (a note or song, for example) with trills, runs, or other melodic embellishments.
  • intransitive v. To sing with trills, runs, or quavers.
  • intransitive v. To be sounded in a trilling or quavering manner.
  • n. The act or an instance of singing with trills, runs, or quavers.
  • n. An abscessed boillike swelling on the back of cattle, deer, and certain other animals, caused by the larva of a warble fly.
  • n. The warble fly, especially in its larval stage.
  • n. A hard lump of tissue on a riding horse's back caused by rubbing of the saddle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. to modulate a tone's frequency
  • v. to sing like a bird, especially with trills.
  • n. a lesion under the skin of cattle, caused by the larva of a bot fly of genus Hypoderma.
  • n. In naval mine warfare, the process of varying the frequency of sound produced by a narrow band noisemaker to ensure that the frequency to which the mine will respond is covered.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.
  • n. A small, hard tumor which is produced on the back of a horse by the heat or pressure of the saddle in traveling.
  • n. A small tumor produced by the larvæ of the gadfly in the backs of horses, cattle, etc. Called also warblet, warbeetle, warnles.
  • n. See Wormil.
  • transitive v. To sing in a trilling, quavering, or vibratory manner; to modulate with turns or variations; to trill.
  • transitive v. To utter musically; to modulate; to carol.
  • transitive v. To cause to quaver or vibrate.
  • intransitive v. To be quavered or modulated; to be uttered melodiously.
  • intransitive v. To sing in a trilling manner, or with many turns and variations.
  • intransitive v. To sing with sudden changes from chest to head tones; to yodel.
  • n. A quavering modulation of the voice; a musical trill; a song.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To sing with trills and quavering, or melodious turns, as a bird; carol or sing with sweetly trilling notes.
  • To sound vibratingly, or with free, smooth, and rapid modulations of pitch; quaver.
  • To yodel.
  • To sing or utter with quavering trills or turns: as, to warble a song.
  • To describe or celebrate in song.
  • n. A strain of clear, rapidly uttered, gliding tones; a trilling, flexible melody; a carol; a song; any soft sweet flow of melodious sounds.
  • In falconry, to cross the wings upon the back.
  • n. A small, hard swelling on the back of a horse, produced by the galling of the saddle.
  • n. A tumor on the back of cattle or doer, produced by the larva of a bot-fly or gadfly.
  • n. An insect or its larva which produces warbles. Also warbeetle. Compare wabble.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. sing by changing register; sing by yodeling
  • n. a lumpy abscess under the hide of domestic mammals caused by larvae of a botfly or warble fly
  • v. sing or play with trills, alternating with the half note above or below


Middle English werbelen, from Old North French werbler, of Germanic origin.
Probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to obsolete Swedish varbulde.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English werble, (at least for the noun) from Frankish werbel (mole cricket), cognate to Walloon waerbea. (Wiktionary)



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  • In A Clockwork Orange's adolescent slang "Nadsat", warble means "song".

    January 7, 2009

  • Reports, unfortunately, indicate
    Warble infections reaching record peaks.

    - Peter Reading, you Can't Be Too Careful, from Fiction, 1979

    June 26, 2008