verb (1)
rat·​tle | \ ˈra-tᵊl How to pronounce rattle (audio) \
rattled; rattling\ ˈrat-​liŋ How to pronounce rattle (audio) , ˈra-​tᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of rattle

 (Entry 1 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to make a rapid succession of short sharp noises the windows rattled in the wind
2 : to chatter incessantly and aimlessly
3 : to move with a clatter or rattle also : to be or move about in a place or station too large or grand rattled around the big old house

transitive verb

1 : to say, perform, or affect in a brisk lively fashion rattled off four magnificent backhands— Kim Chapin
2 : to cause to make a rattling sound
3 : rouse specifically : to beat (a cover) for game
4 : to upset especially to the point of loss of poise and composure : disturb



Definition of rattle (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : a device that produces a rattle specifically : a case containing pellets used as a baby's toy
b : the sound-producing organ on a rattlesnake's tail
2a : a rapid succession of sharp clattering sounds
b : noise, racket


verb (2)
rattled; rattling\ ˈrat-​liŋ How to pronounce rattle (audio) , ˈra-​tᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of rattle (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

: to furnish with ratlines

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Choose the Right Synonym for rattle

Verb (1)

embarrass, discomfit, abash, disconcert, rattle mean to distress by confusing or confounding. embarrass implies some influence that impedes thought, speech, or action. the question embarrassed her so much she couldn't answer discomfit implies a hampering or frustrating accompanied by confusion. hecklers discomfited the speaker abash presupposes some initial self-confidence that receives a sudden check, producing shyness, shame, or a feeling of inferiority. abashed by her swift and cutting retort disconcert implies an upsetting of equanimity or assurance producing uncertainty or hesitancy. disconcerted by finding so many in attendance rattle implies an agitation that impairs thought and judgment. rattled by all the television cameras

Examples of rattle in a Sentence

Noun I'd go nuts if I had to endure the rattle of that bottling plant every day.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb One thing is for sure though: Yellowstone will remain rumbling for the foreseeable future and will continue to rattle some nerves and stir up rumors online in the process. Eric Mack, Forbes, "An Eruption Of The Yellowstone Volcano Would Be Wild, But Not Like You Think," 2 Mar. 2021 One fastbreak featured Ramey lobbing a pass off the glass to Sims, who hammered a dunk with enough force to rattle the back-board. Nick Moyle, ExpressNews.com, "Depleted No. 4 Texas hammers Kansas State," 16 Jan. 2021 Sometimes, like in recent days, lava stones rain down on streets, bounce off cars and rattle roofs. Fox News, "Mount Etna puts on its latest spectacular show," 26 Feb. 2021 Diversions and blunders that are common in startups could rattle public-market investors, who expect predictability. Eliot Brown, WSJ, "SPAC Frenzy Emboldens Silicon Valley Startups to Forgo Venture Funding," 26 Feb. 2021 Frustrating issues like early foul trouble and defensive miscues don’t rattle the big man as much these days. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, "As senior season nears end, Texas' Jericho Sims steps up," 25 Feb. 2021 The impact of a big leap may help rattle an antler loose. Jason Tome, Outdoor Life, "Scout Winter Deer Patterns and You Will Find More Shed Antlers," 17 Feb. 2021 So while marchers’ sensory overload is made up of glittery, dazzling visuals and sweet brass and drums that’ll rattle tooth fillings, another sense plays a big factor for these musical athletes: the varied smells of the parade route. Taylor Pittman, NOLA.com, "Skipping A Beat," 31 Jan. 2021 But Mahomes is completing 68.3 percent of his passes, so don’t panic if the attempts to rattle him are mostly ineffective. Safid Deen, sun-sentinel.com, "As Tua prepares for Chiefs, here’s how he stacks up with some of the NFL’s best after five career starts," 12 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But also reconnecting with the sounds of a running river, a kingfisher’s rattle over the creek, even the pleasing tones of waves against a boat hull. T. Edward Nickens, Outdoor Life, "Fishing Etiquette 101: How to Be a Responsible Angler on Your Home Waters," 8 Mar. 2021 What’s needed is a compact, tack-driving, bolt-action rifle that’s also suppressor capable and ready for a rattle-can camo job. Richard Mann, Field & Stream, "The 7 Best Coyote Rifles for Any Budget," 18 Feb. 2021 The material is easily washable, non-slip, and rattle-proof. Popsci Commerce Team, Popular Science, "Nail polish organizers to keep your collection in check," 20 Jan. 2021 This reduced the rattle in my voice, but at a cost. Carolyn Wells, Longreads, "How Vocal Injury Can Change You," 27 Jan. 2021 This pastel toy activity set includes a trio of jingly macarons plus a donut rattle. Lindsey Hunter Lopez, USA TODAY, "26 cute and fun Valentine's Day gifts kids will love," 21 Jan. 2021 The costumes worn by dancers who honor the Virgin of Guadalupe vary by group, but all contain the same items: a plume headdress, a homemade bow and arrow and a rattle. Carmina Tiscareño, Dallas News, "‘Faith kept us dancing’: Troupes preserve Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe traditions amid pandemic," 11 Dec. 2020 The whir of helicopter blades and the rattle of hand saws has been a constant on Bill Williams Mountain this fall. Anton L. Delgado, The Arizona Republic, "Recover or restore? Bill Williams project aims to prevent wildfires by thinning forests," 10 Dec. 2020 A little two-inch yellow box of Ship matches with a healthy rattle to it. Ann Wroe, The Economist, "Stranger things The primal thrill of striking a match," 7 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Bethany’s new approach is something of a tightrope act: an attempt to establish a clear, consistent policy of inclusion that does not rattle its core constituencies, including the churches that are its primary venue for recruiting parents. New York Times, "Major Evangelical Adoption Agency Will Now Serve Gay Parents Nationwide," 1 Mar. 2021 On the below play, the Browns only rush four and are able to rattle Rudolph into his third interception of the game. Ellis L. Williams, cleveland, "How the Browns’ defense can force Mason Rudolph and the Steelers into turnovers: Film Review," 3 Jan. 2021 Senna loved to rattle his American wife with a show of cynical wisdom where Madagascar was concerned, and Shay was generally amused. Andrea Lee, The New Yorker, "The Rivals," 28 Dec. 2020 And the tough questions are likely to be posed by women, something which often appears to rattle or irritate Trump. Erik Larson, Bloomberg.com, "Trump Could Finally Testify Under Oath in Lawsuit-Filled 2021," 23 Dec. 2020 Also on Tuesday, severe thunderstorms are forecast to rattle portions of the sSouth Central U.S., including much of Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "Thanksgiving weather forecast: Here's where you'll be able to hold your get-togethers outside," 24 Nov. 2020 The rock broke up in midair due to unequal pressure between its front and back, causing some buildings to rattle and many residents to report hearing a loud booming sound, NASA Meteor Watch said. Charlie Mckenna, BostonGlobe.com, "Meteor that streaked across New England broke apart with force equivalent to 440 pounds of TNT, NASA says," 10 Mar. 2021 All are aware of how that would rattle Biden's presidency and Democrats' ability to be productive during this Congress. Alan Fram, Star Tribune, "Biden urges Senate Dems to rally behind $1.9T virus bill," 2 Mar. 2021 Diversions and blunders that are common in startups could rattle public-market investors, who expect predictability. Eliot Brown, WSJ, "SPAC Frenzy Emboldens Silicon Valley Startups to Forgo Venture Funding," 26 Feb. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rattle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of rattle

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1519, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb (2)

1729, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for rattle

Verb (1)

Middle English ratelen; akin to Middle Dutch ratel rattle

Verb (2)

irregular from ratline

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Learn More about rattle

Time Traveler for rattle

Time Traveler

The first known use of rattle was in the 14th century

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Statistics for rattle

Last Updated

4 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rattle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rattle. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for rattle



English Language Learners Definition of rattle

: a series of short, loud sounds
: a baby's toy that makes a series of short sounds when it is shaken
: the group of hard, loose pieces (called scales) that cover the end of a rattlesnake's tail


rat·​tle | \ ˈra-tᵊl How to pronounce rattle (audio) \
rattled; rattling

Kids Definition of rattle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to make or cause to make a rapid series of short sharp sounds Wind rattled the windows.
2 : to move with a clatter A wagon rattled down the road.
3 : to speak or say quickly or without stopping He rattled off the answers.
4 : to disturb the calmness of : upset The question rattled the speaker.



Kids Definition of rattle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a series of short sharp sounds the rattle of dishes
2 : a toy that makes a rattling sound
3 : a part at the end of a rattlesnake's tail that makes a buzzing rattle when shaken


rat·​tle | \ ˈrat-ᵊl How to pronounce rattle (audio) \

Medical Definition of rattle

1 : the sound-producing organ on a rattlesnake's tail
2 : a throat noise caused by air passing through mucus specifically : death rattle — compare rale, rhonchus

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