Dribble vs. Drivel

One mistake I’ve noticed a lot is the use of the word “dribble” when “drivel” is intended. For those not in the know:

Drivel (noun): Stupid or childish talk.

Dribble (noun): A thin stream of liquid; a trickle

I’ve seen this happen many times: someone leaving a (YouTube, Facebook, WordPress, etc) comment, calling someone else’s writing “dribble” rather than “drivel.”

This mistake, to me, is especially egregious; as stated, the typical scenario in which one uses the word “drivel” is to chide someone else’s use of the English language. Generally, calling someone’s speech drivel is kind of a mean thing to do. You’re even more of an ass, however, if you don’t even know the correct word with which to criticize them.


Here are three example sentences. They all contain this mistake:

I’m not listening to you; the only thing coming out of your mouth is meaningless dribble

I’m tired of this; I’ve had to deal with your dribble all night

Hey – Spare me your dribble, will you?

When I read comments on the internet, I (unfortunately) tend to read them quite literally. So when people screw this up, I always tend to imagine that — rather than having made a vocabulary error — they INTENDED to use the word “dribble.” So, here are the scenarios in which I imagine each of these speakers:

Unfortunately, this always makes them seem like MORE of a jerk.


About Boggleton Drive

I teach things to people and sometimes draw comics.
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46 Responses to Dribble vs. Drivel

  1. 2B OR NOT 2B, that is the question.

  2. Seriously: One of the funniest things I’ve read/witnessed/experienced in a long, long time…

    As a card-holding word nerd, I’m in love with your spot-on analysis!


  3. artjen1971 says:

    I especially like the hospital picture–I totally get the “well” person’s aggravation!

  4. kvetchmom says:

    So hysterical! Love, love, love this one. It’s so hard not to correct people!


  5. hahahha i’m dribbling myself with laughter!!!

    great post as always! =D

  6. Ryan says:

    Poor hospitalized dude! D:

    Awesome blog.

  7. I love your blog. My co-workers call me the Grammar Nazi – but I do make the occasional mistake. Luckily, they rarely notice as they think I’m full of d-r-i-v-e-l! I’m so glad you got Freshly Pressed recently so I could find you.

  8. thewaiting says:

    Your illustrations are perfection 😀 So glad you were FP’d because I am seriously adoring your blog.

  9. Russ Nickel says:

    Had to deal with my dribble all night? Coach, you’re the one who told me to practice instead of sleep! I thought I was really making progress.

  10. Beth says:

    Well played.

    Mute v. Moot v. Moo? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? (And yes, I once heard someone use the term “moo point”… awesome visual images on that one!)

  11. booksnob says:

    I’m particularly tired of people misusing ‘weary’ and ‘wary.’

  12. poetg65 says:

    Oh, I like your blog so very much! To reiterate the comments of others before me, hurrah for Fresh Pressed. A great many of my friends are Adjunct English/Basic Comp/Writing professors, ergo, their FB posts are filled with the hilarious malapropisms of their students. I myself delight (not really, it’s more like despair) in finding egregious grammar errors in newspaper and magazine articles, “For all intensive purposes”?! Really?! really?!! “I could care less”? Oh my. Here’s yet another take on the old standby: “It’s a mute/(moot) point.” There are sooo many more, I simply cannot recall them all.

    Please keep on blogging and drawing, you brighten my week!

    • Haha. I love those malapropisms / eggcorns. Unfortunately, most of the ones I see on Facebook aren’t from students, but from my friends. Shudder.

      Like I say though, it’s all material for me, so I welcome these mistakes!

      Thanks for your comment! Glad you’re enjoying Boggleton Drive. 🙂

  13. Lol what I love about your blog is that not only do I get a good laugh from reading these comics, I also learn something new everytime… I am so glad I found your blog 😀

  14. Sunshine says:

    I am learning sooooo much coming over here!!! 🙂
    (hope i said it write, oops, i meant right!)

  15. Lol ok. Your students must be very lucky to have you as a teacher ^_^

  16. Krisantemum says:

    Very hillarious… Can’t stop laughing reading your comics, you dribble!!! :p

  17. Pingback: On being a wordie (grammar freak) | Ellen in Haiti

  18. the second scenario had me cracking me out loud.

  19. oh dribble! that came out all garbaged. I meant
    the second scenario had me cracking up.

  20. honoriaplum says:

    I’m dribbling with glee.

  21. I just saw a user comment on some news site that made me remember this post. It said “meaningless drivle.” Close enough?

  22. Melinda says:

    I just read “dribble” in a published book, where “drivel” was intended. I thought maybe I was in the wrong, so looked it up on the internet and came across your post. Although it seems like the two words were synonymous years ago, it no longer is the case. I appreciate your cartoons. I teach 3d animation and I think in pictures as well. One of my favorites? “Her eyes came to rest on the mantel.” Cheers!

  23. Chip says:

    This is interesting, yet dictionary.com also defines drivel as a verb-to let saliva flow from mouth. In this case, drivel would work effectively in the second example, “Im tired of this….”

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