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


verb (2)
rattled; rattling\ ˈrat-​liŋ How to pronounce rattling (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 Given these surface-level similarities, screenwriter Scott Z. Burns isn't surprised the 2011 film might be of particular interest to those rattled by COVID-19's spread—its death toll surpassed 1,100 this week, almost entirely in China. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "‘Contagion’ writer, scientific adviser reflect on film’s newfound relevance amid coronavirus crisis," 12 Feb. 2020 Consumer electronics isn’t the only sector being rattled by the outbreak that has killed over a thousand people and sickened thousands of others worldwide. Dalvin Brown, USA TODAY, "Coronavirus: How your tech, travel, autos and more are shaken by the outbreak," 12 Feb. 2020 Symone Sanders late Friday repeated the campaign's staffing shake-ups weren't an indication the outfit was rattled by Iowa's Feb. 3 caucus chaos. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Biden campaign insists New Hampshire still in play despite doubtful candidate statement," 8 Feb. 2020 Even after 25 years of having Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston for a neighbor, Robert and Nancy Parker still look forward to the Army post’s time-honored routine that rattles their bedroom window every weekday morning at 6:30 a.m. René A. Guzman, ExpressNews.com, "Fort Sam Houston has fired a cannon every morning and night for 125 years," 5 Feb. 2020 The past few years have been bumpy for the Fifth Avenue behemoth, rattled by bothersome budget holes, lurches in leadership and stalled building projects. Washington Post, "The Met is the world’s greatest art museum. Three under-the-radar shows confirm it — again.," 10 Jan. 2020 The teen returned to his uncle’s house rattled by the experience, M.J. said. Colin Campbell, baltimoresun.com, "Woman’s body found burned in West Baltimore," 13 Nov. 2019 The yuan steadied on Thursday after the central bank set the daily fixing stronger than analysts expected, providing some reassurance to traders rattled by a tumultuous week in markets. Anchalee Worrachate / Bloomberg, Time, "President Trump Wants a Weaker Dollar. But He Keeps Accidentally Pumping Up the Value," 8 Aug. 2019 Houstonians, rattled by a pair of mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, that together killed 30 people over the weekend, went about their day more cautiously on Monday. Paul Takahashi, Houston Chronicle, "‘We’re scared, but we still need to buy things’ Houston shoppers react to El Paso shooting," 5 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In another setting — one far removed from poverty, the rattle of trains in and out of Union Station and the whoop of emergency vehicle sirens — Charles Leon Willie and Kara Chauncey’s tent in a District homeless encampment might be almost cozy. Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post, "Days after a D.C. encampment is cleared, some homeless are choosing the streets over shelters," 25 Jan. 2020 The rattle of a flight attendant’s service cart sparks a nostalgic joy in me. Natalie B. Compton, chicagotribune.com, "The Golden Age of airplane food is over; the future is snacks, sustainability," 21 Oct. 2019 But on January 5th some were woken by the less melodious rattle and crump of distant battle. The Economist, "Al-Shabab and Iran An attack on American forces in Kenya raises questions and concerns," 11 Jan. 2020 The clear plastic disc on the outside of the Oball rattles can break, releasing small beads, posing a choking hazard to young children. Kate Gibson, CBS News, "TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods sold potentially dangerous products after recalls," 2 Dec. 2019 Recall Date: March 2, 2017 Original Sale Dates: January 2016 through February 2017 Hazard: The clear plastic disc on the outside of the oball rattles can break, releasing small beads, posing a choking hazard to young children. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al, "T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods selling recalled products, federal agency warns," 27 Nov. 2019 There are many lures with built-in rattles these days, but probably the best-known is the Rat-L-Trap from Bill Lewis Lures. Frank Sargeant, al, "It’s time for anglers ‘rattle up’ to hook winter bass," 8 Dec. 2019 Another involved a rattle recalled in March 2017 after 42 reports of the plastic disc breaking and releasing small beads, including two reports of beads found in children's mouths and three reports of gagging. Kate Gibson, CBS News, "TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods sold potentially dangerous products after recalls," 2 Dec. 2019 The reliefs make a great effort to depict the grand spectacle: Many priests support the barks and statues, while a crowd makes a joyous din with sistrum rattles. National Geographic, "Egypt’s pharaohs welcomed summer with this fabulous festival," 25 June 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb About Quarantined People on Japanese Cruise Ship While the spread of the coronavirus has rattled manufacturers and upset supply chains the world over, the tourism-dependent economies of Southeast Asia are particularly vulnerable. Charlie Campbell / Krabi, Time, "'It Will Be Catastrophic.' Asia's Tourism-Dependent Economies Are Being Hit Hard by the Coronavirus," 13 Feb. 2020 There are a number of senior roles at banks and insurers coming vacant in the coming months—even if the spying allegations rattle some. Rochelle Toplensky, WSJ, "Tidjane Thiam’s Ouster Raises More Questions at Credit Suisse," 7 Feb. 2020 Aguadilla is one of two dozen cities on the island that do not have emergency alert sirens, even as hundreds of earthquakes have rattled Puerto Rico for weeks. New York Times, "After Disasters, Puerto Ricans Are Left With $1.6 Billion in Unpaid Insurance Claims," 6 Feb. 2020 Perhaps inspired by his fire, the Panthers rediscovered some of their earlier defensive fire while also rattling off 15 of next 21 points to turn what had grown to a 13-point deficit into a 45-43 game. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wright State 65, UW-Milwaukee 61: Rousing defensive effort not enough to save Panthers at the end," 31 Jan. 2020 Scientists and engineers wanted to confirm the tube was structurally sound after thousands of earthquakes rattled the park during the eruption. USA TODAY, "Mammoth Cave sharks, waterfall chasing, Valentine’s divorce: News from around our 50 states," 31 Jan. 2020 At least 29 people are dead and more than 1,400 are injured in eastern Turkey after a 6.7-magnitude earthquake rattled his home country. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Cedi Osman, with help from Larry Nance Jr., leads campaign and raises $60,000 for earthquake relief in Turkey," 26 Jan. 2020 Banks led a slide in U.S. stocks Tuesday as a virus outbreak in China rattled global markets, prompting investors to shift assets into bonds and defensive sector companies. Washington Post, "US stocks close lower amid jitters over virus outbreak," 22 Jan. 2020 As volcanic tremors rattled the region, volcanic lightning could be seen flickering in the column of steam and ash generated by the eruption. Fox News, "Philippines volcano bring threat of 'volcanic tsunami' after eruption near Manila halts flights, thousands flee," 13 Jan. 2020

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

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Rattle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rattle. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

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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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