AskDefine | Define gargle

Dictionary Definition



1 a medicated solution used for gargling and rinsing the mouth [syn: mouthwash]
2 the sound produced while gargling


1 utter with gargling or burbling sounds
2 rinse one's mouth and throat with mouthwash; "gargle with this liquid" [syn: rinse]

User Contributed Dictionary



(US) IPA: /ˈgɑrgəl/


  1. to clean one's mouth by holding water or some other liquid in the back of the mouth and blowing air out from the lungs
    • 1915, Willa Cather, The Song of the Lark
      She hated the poisoned feeling in her throat, and no matter how often she gargled she felt unclean and disgusting.
  2. to make a sound like the one made while gargling
  3. to clean a specific part of the body by gargling (almost always throat or mouth)
    • 1893, Gilbert Parker, Mrs. Falchion
      They don't gargle their throats with anything stronger than coffee at this tavern.
  4. to use (a liquid) for purposes of cleaning one's mouth or throat by gargling.
    Every morning he gargled a little cheap Scotch.


clean one's mouth
make such a sound


  1. a liquid used for gargling
    • 1861, Young's Demonstrative Translation of Scientific Secrets
      Take of borax 1 drm., tinc. of myrrh 1/2 oz., clarified honey 1 oz., rose or distilled water, 4 oz.; mix. To be used as a gargle or mouth wash in sore mouth or affection of the gums.


liquid used for gargling

Extensive Definition

Gargling is the act in which one bubbles a liquid in his or her mouth. It usually requires that the person tilts his or her head back, allowing a mouthful of liquid to sit in the upper throat. The head can be tilted either by extending the neck or back, depending on what is comfortable for the gargler. Air is then expelled from the lungs, causing the liquid to bubble and undulate throughout the throat and mouth region.
As gargling can be done repetetively with the same liquid for greater periods than a person's lung capacity allows, one temporarily tilts the head forward to be able to breathe in again easily, as the liquid travels to the front of the mouth. Breathing in can be done through the mouth for people who are sick, this requires a lesser amount of liquid so that it does not spill out when the mouth is opened for inhaling.
It is a common method of cleansing the throat, especially if one has a sore throat or upper-respiratory virus or infection.
Gargling done for medicinal purposes (or for cleaning your throat) may be done with various substances. One commonly used way is with herbal tea or tea. There are also many specific medicines designed to be used, either readily available at a supermarket or drug store or requiring a prescription from a licensed medical doctor. Home remedies for gargling include a hyper-tonic saline solution of table salt (ratio of solid to liquid varies; suggestion: 1/4 teaspoon of table salt in 8 oz. warm water) and various types of vinegar. Gargling with a solution of table salt is known to provide relief for a sore throat because as a natural dehydrator, salt draws water from the inflammations in the throat by osmosis.
Antiseptic mouthwash can be also gargled to remove bacteria from the throat.
According to modern western etiquette, gargling is a fairly impolite activity during a social occasion or mealtime. It is typically performed in a bathroom at a sink so the refused liquid may be disposed of properly.


  • Gargle at the Centre for Cancer Education, University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Accessed July 2007
gargle in German: Gurgeln
gargle in French: Gargarisme
gargle in Japanese: うがい
gargle in Yiddish: גארגעל

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

baptize, bath, bathe, bib, dentifrice, douche, draft, drain the cup, dram, drench, drink, drink bottoms-up, drink deep, drink hard, drink off, drink up, drop, flush, flush out, follow strong drink, grog, guzzle, holystone, imbibe, irrigate, jigger, jolt, knock back, lap, lap up, lather, launder, lave, libation, mop, mop up, mouthwash, nip, peg, potation, potion, pull, quaff, rinse, rinse out, ritually immerse, round, round of drinks, scour, scrub, scrub up, shampoo, shot, shower, sip, sluice, sluice out, snifter, snort, soak, soap, sponge, spot, suck, sup, swab, swig, swill, syringe, tipple, toivel, tooth powder, toothpaste, tope, toss down, toss off, tub, wash, wash out, wash up, wet
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