What would be the words in the formation process of the neologism "phrasibuler" ?

I found this neological verb in this sentence by Céline (Bagatelles pour un massacre, 1937):

la critique, évidemment, donne à fond (elle n'existe que dans ce but, pour cet office) insiste, encense, pontifie, acclame, proclame... Phrasibule d'or toutes ces vessies.

I can tell, for sure, that one of the words in the formation process of "phrasibuler" is "phrase", but in order to understand the stylistical effect intended by the author, I wonder what would be the other word, that resonates with "ibule".

  • phrase + fabuler peut faire phrasibuler. It is not straightforward. To make it pronounceable, it could be that.
    – Lambie
    Jun 24, 2021 at 19:39

2 Answers 2


As a native French speaker who hadn't read this word before, I intuitively give it the meaning “to make sentences that are somewhat pompous and are not as interesting or important as their authors believe”.

-(i)buler is not a common or productive suffix. I'm not counting -i- as part of the suffix because it's a natural faux-Latin back-formation from phrase: many Latin roots have a weak e/i ending that becomes i when there's a following consonant (such as in the suffix -(i)ble indicating possibility) but is omitted altogether when it's at the end of the root. The only suffix that's truly recognizable here is -er, which is a generic verb suffix. In other words where it occurs, the -bul- part is part of the root ((af)fabuler < Lat. fabula, déambuler < Lat. ambulare, tabuler < Lat. tabula are the only common verbs with a root ending like this).

None of these words are close enough to make phrasibuler appear as a compound of phrase and another word. The word does however vaguely remind me of volubile (loquacious). So someone who phrasibule probably talks a lot, but what they say may be uninteresting or garbled. I'm also reminded of patibulaire, an adjective which means that a person looks like a criminal, so the words of someone who phrasibule are probably to be condemned.

I'm also reminded of a later nonsense word zibule¹. (By humorists Pierre Dac and Francis Blanche in the 1960s, part of a joke about cintre à zibule. Cintre is a clothes hanger. “À zibule” can either be parsed as Zibule being the inventor of the hanger — Zibule's clothes hanger — or zibule being an accessory of the hanger — originally the hook part, but it can refer to the horizontal bar among younger generation.). I don't know why the word was chosen, but it's an example of the sonority -ibule working well for a nonsense word.

Making a verb more complex than it should be, with a pejorative result, is a rare but not isolated phenomenon in French. I'm reminded of the suffix -coter which can indicate that something is more complex than it should be, found naturally in tricoter (knitting, with a common figurative meaning of constructing something complex, often in a pejorative way) and in deliberate coinages such as emberlificoter and tarabiscoté.

  • Wow ! Merci infiniment pour votre réponse !
    – user23005
    Jun 28, 2021 at 15:47

The only verb in -ibuler I know is démantibuler.

Otherwise, there are not that much words with the -ibule ending:

fibule (a rare word, but a fibule can be made of gold)

In phrasibuler, after phrase, we also hear bulle.

  • 1
    Within my household, we have a verb opposite to démantibuler: REMANTIBULER. Though sometimes quite challenging, it can however also be very rewarding to remantibuler something ;-) Jun 18, 2021 at 13:02
  • 1
    Dans phrasibuler, on entend aussi buller (Familier : ne rien faire), et ce n'est peut-être pas un hasard!
    – XouDo
    Jun 24, 2021 at 9:20
  • 2
    @XouDo J'y ai pensé mais ce sens serait un anachronisme ici.
    – jlliagre
    Jun 24, 2021 at 9:51
  • Ah ok, comme il n'était nulle part indiqué de quand datait l'ouvrage... mais j'aurais du me douter que c'était du Céline.
    – XouDo
    Jun 24, 2021 at 11:50

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