verb (1)
rat·​tle | \ ˈra-tᵊl \
rattled; rattling\ ˈrat-​liŋ , 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 , 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


I'd go nuts if I had to endure the rattle of that bottling plant every day.

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Washington and Beijing have been engaged in a tit-for-tat tariff fight that has rattled global markets. Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ, "Chinese Huawei Executive Is Charged With Espionage in Poland," 11 Jan. 2019 All 24-hour news networks are reticent to rattle the cages of the status quo too much. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Domestic terrorism is on the rise. Why won’t cable news networks say so?," 29 Oct. 2018 Liverpool, last year’s runner-up, has the swashbuckling combination of attacking prowess and physical power to rattle anyone in Europe—which is exactly the recipe behind the Premier League’s dominance in the mid-2000s. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "A New-Look Real Madrid Shoots for Four Champions League Titles in a Row," 18 Sep. 2018 In dollar terms, the items most likely to rattle American consumers are computers and couches. New York Times, "Trade War With China in Aisle 12," 12 July 2018 Riding bumpity-bumpity-bump over the bricks is enough to rattle your brain pan. Richard A. Marini, San Antonio Express-News, "Downtown gets the Bird with fun-to-ride scooters," 5 July 2018 Set up camp in your own backyard and spend an afternoon trying to rattle off a dozen bird species with the help of iBird Pro. Outside Online, "5 Digital Tools That Make Summer Adventuring Easier," 1 July 2018 Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupted Thursday triggering a series of earthquakes that have continued to rattle the island as burning blood-red lava spewed hundreds of feet in the air from cracks in the ground. Gabby Raymond, Time, "Hawaiians Blame Misunderstanding of Volcano and 'Doomsday' Headlines for Big Drop in Tourism," 21 June 2018 Trump has also managed to rattle usually unflappable Canada by hurling personal insults at its prime minister, Justin Trudeau. Washington Post, "Courting Putin, Trump jolts the West with a nationalist bent," 21 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Those scenes are clangorous (the sound design is very impressive), with bone-shaking rattles and mechanical grinding and rocket- engine roaring. Soren Andersen, The Seattle Times, "‘First Man’: Ryan Gosling is stellar as astronaut Neil Armstrong," 8 Oct. 2018 An upstate New York man trying to jump-start his car was greeted by an unusual sound coming from his engine — the rattle of a venomous timber rattlesnake. Fox News, "Man jumpstarting car finds rattlesnake under hood," 22 June 2018 In fact, there's that sort of rattle and a clang to our entire cul-de-sac, and that's mostly on us. Chris Erskine, latimes.com, "Our house is a Renaissance smile — sly, fetching and a little troubled. Come on in!," 25 May 2018 Among them: tortoises, bearded dragons, lizards, geckos, a cobra, rattle snakes, a crocodile, an alligator, scores of venomous snakes, and even a python, known as the world's longest of snakes. Sonja Haller, azcentral, "Predators Reptile Expo in Mesa April 14-15: See the world's longest snake," 12 Apr. 2018 From inside her house, M heard a rattle of gunfire and a chorus of screams. Washington Post, "Silent pain: Rohingya rape survivors’ babies quietly emerge," 5 July 2018 Critics have warned his rise could push Colombia dangerously toward the left and rattle markets in the traditionally conservative country. Christine Armario And Joshua Goodman, chicagotribune.com, "Colombia set for combative presidential runoff with divisions over peace," 28 May 2018 Perhaps the most extravagant present was an 18-karat white-gold rattle from the Natural Sapphire Company, featuring diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Princess Charlotte Receives Incredible First Birthday Gifts From Around the World," 3 May 2016 As the game played on, dozens of vendors carrying large Mexican flags, rattles, horns and other celebratory instruments stood by, hopeful victory would boost their sales. Sandra Dibble, sandiegouniontribune.com, "¡Viva Korea! Losing to Sweden, Mexican soccer fans cheer Korean team," 27 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In their last trip to Spokane, rowdy GU fans created a raucous atmosphere that rattled the Huskies who didn’t put up much of a fight during a 98-71 defeat. Percy Allen, The Seattle Times, "UW Huskies need their “A” game to snap 7-game losing streak at No. 1 Gonzaga," 5 Dec. 2018 Early the next morning in Tokyo, as thick clouds from Jebi’s outer bands raced overhead, an offshore earthquake rattled softly but perceptibly through the city. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Quietly, Japan has established itself as a power in the aerospace industry," 15 Nov. 2018 The blast that rattled Kenny’s Place at 1862 E. Allegheny Ave. Joseph A. Gambardello, Philly.com, "Would-be robbers blow open ATM with explosive device in Kensington," 21 June 2018 Almost 1 million people from Venezuela are thought to have poured into neighboring Colombia in the last two years, amid a grinding economic, social and political crisis that has rattled the region. Jim Wyss, miamiherald, "Almost 1 million people moved from Venezuela to Colombia in just two years, study shows," 13 June 2018 This time the eruption rattled the couple's big landscape windows, the result of the frequent banging as vents thrust out steam and gas that serves as a nerve-jangling score to life here now. Scott Wilson, Anchorage Daily News, "The earth cracked open. Walls of lava encroached. That’s just life on a Hawaiian volcano.," 20 May 2018 That reminded him of the ends of television commercials that rattle off the potential side effects of various drugs. Vahe Gregorian, kansascity, "The remarkable Hilary Watson's inspiring battle against cancer | The Kansas City Star," 19 May 2018 But there is a new century and a new monarch in Great Britain, and social change is occurring at a revolutionary pace that is rattling the nation’s rigid class system. David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle, "Stunning new ‘Howards End’ connects with social change," 4 Apr. 2018 All 24-hour news networks are reticent to rattle the cages of the status quo too much. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Domestic terrorism is on the rise. Why won’t cable news networks say so?," 29 Oct. 2018

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

Dictionary Entries near rattle





rattle about

rattle around


Statistics for rattle

Last Updated

18 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rattle

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

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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 \
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 \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on rattle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rattle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rattle

Spanish Central: Translation of rattle

Nglish: Translation of rattle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rattle for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about rattle

Comments on rattle

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tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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