Tall tales under duress

As promised in yesterday's post, here's the second interesting word from a New York Times story about the origins of torture techniques recently used by the CIA:

Worse, the study found that under such abusive treatment, a prisoner became “malleable and suggestible, and in some instances he may confabulate.”

It's an interesting word, although the story never really explains it or gives context that does so. Of course, if you're reading it online, you can always use the Times' double-click on a word to get the American Heritage Dictionary definition feature. (No help for readers of the printed paper.)

And that definition is: "To fill in gaps in one's memory with fabrications that one believes to be facts." So you can see why that would be a bad thing in an interrogation.

Merriam-Webster Online gave a good etymology: From the "Latin confabulatus, past participle of confabulari, from com- + fabulari meaning to talk, from fabula, meaning story." Fabula also gives us the word fable.