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
b : noise, racket


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


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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

And in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the run-up to the 2018 Winter Games was marked by concerns about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s nuclear saber-rattling. Marisa Guthrie, The Hollywood Reporter, "NBCUniversal Expects to Rake in More Than $1.2B for 2020 Tokyo Olympics," 23 July 2019 But be clear: Saber-rattling began in earnest at the All-Star Game in Cleveland. Barry Svrluga, courant.com, "As MLB gets younger - fast - its salary system only looks more broken," 12 July 2019 The Thomas & Mack center momentarily recaptured the electricity from Friday night’s earth-rattling debut of Zion Willliamson. Jake Fischer, SI.com, "Coach's Challenges Are Coming: Is the NBA Ready?," 10 July 2019 The July Fourth celebration, inspired by Trump’s visit to France during Bastille Day festivities in 2017 and informed by his affinity for the sabre-rattling tyrants of the world, was a high point in the President’s battle to command reality. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "Donald Trump’s “Inoffensive” War on Reality," 5 July 2019 Players threw a few glass-rattling hits before Brayden Burke made it 2-0 for Team White on a rebound off a blocked Aku Raty shot. Julia Stumbaugh, azcentral, "Five takeaways from Coyotes' 2019 Town Hall, prospect scrimmage," 28 June 2019 Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to present President Trump with a set of terms the U.S. should meet before Beijing is ready to settle a market-rattling trade confrontation. Paul J. Davies, WSJ, "Stocks Rise as Investors Hope for Trade Progress," 27 June 2019 After four days on the road—snacking on cuttlefish puffs and other iffy gas-station food, hundreds of miles of forest, the endless downshifting to power up spine-rattling hills—letting someone else take the controls was a luxury. Paul Brady, Condé Nast Traveler, "Want Serious Bragging Rights? Do a Road Trip Across Borneo," 16 Nov. 2018 In 2018 there’s a lot of saber-rattling between China and the US. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Netflix will get ads, predicts the Trade Desk CEO Jeff Green," 15 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The first Kapoor antiquities to arrive at the Met were a set of first-century terra-cotta rattles in the shape of Yaksha, a nature spirit. Tom Mashberg, New York Times, "The Met Reviews Items It Received From a Dealer, Now a Looting Suspect," 18 Aug. 2019 White and his fellow frontman and guitarist Brendan Benson teased out the opening guitar lines, injecting the melody with more rattle and moan, before the riff finally kicked into gear. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The Raconteurs with Jack White rock Milwaukee for the first time at sold-out Eagles Ballroom show," 15 July 2019 The communal benefits of music have been valued for centuries, from Egyptian incantations to Greek flutes and lyres to Chinese bells and wind chimes, Indigenous Australian didgeridoos, African drums, and Native American rattles. Jennifer Emerling, National Geographic, "Seeking silence on a California road trip," 6 Aug. 2019 Their telltale sounds are hisssssss, rattle-rattle. Rachel Levin, Sunset, "What to Do If You See a Rattlesnake in the Wild," 22 Jan. 2018 If someone hears the distinctive rattle of a rattlesnake, Ramirez says to freeze and identify where the noise is coming from, take several steps back, out of danger, make sure there is not another in the vicinity, and then give him a call. Scott Strazzante, SFChronicle.com, "Rattlesnake wrangler constantly on call to remove, relocate snakes," 28 July 2019 The Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak recently acquired her rattle for its collection, officials said. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, "After the Russians came to the Alutiiq region, the dance rattles went silent. A Kodiak artist has changed that.," 30 June 2019 The rattle was felt from Las Vegas to Orange County and cities throughout California saw varying degrees of damage. Jay Croft, Braden Goyette And Christina Maxouris, CNN, "After its largest earthquake in two decades, California might need to brace for another one in the next week," 5 July 2019 The museum owns fragments of ancient dance rattles, but no complete versions. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, "After the Russians came to the Alutiiq region, the dance rattles went silent. A Kodiak artist has changed that.," 30 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

News reports earlier this year said the photo was somehow connected to a notorious child abuse case that had rattled the community in prior years. Rosanna Xiastaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "How did four smiling teachers end up posing with a noose? Here’s what they told investigators," 7 Sep. 2019 A thousand pieces that rattled a hopelessness into me. Shailene Woodley, Time, "Shailene Woodley: How I'm Changing My Life to Help Save the Seas," 4 Sep. 2019 Saturday’s third round was suspended following lightning strikes that rattled the grounds at East Lake Golf Club. Steve Dimeglio, USA TODAY, "Rory McIlroy wins Tour Championshp, captures FedEx Cup and $15 million bonus money," 25 Aug. 2019 Together, the developments revived optimism that the world's two biggest economies can make progress toward resolving a trade dispute that has rattled financial markets for more than a year and clouded prospects for the global economy. Paul Wiseman, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump administration delays tariffs on some Chinese goods, drops others," 13 Aug. 2019 For instance, as the southern limb of the split rotates away, its motion could be the cause of strong earthquakes that rattle off the coast of southern Oregon and northern California, the new model suggests. National Geographic, "A tectonic plate is dying under Oregon. Here’s why that matters.," 29 July 2019 Far below you, heavy things are oscillating, the seismic plates of those leaf springs grinding a perpetual fault line that rattles the china up there in the penthouse. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "The Ram 3500 Is Textbook Outrageous," 22 July 2019 The tectonic changes that rattled the NBA during free agency have quieted. Gary Peterson, The Mercury News, "Betting site says Warriors will be under .500, but ESPN analysts more optimistic," 15 July 2019 Allen unleashed a swerving bullet that rattled into the top corner of the Coventry goal, clattering off the stanchion and bobbling back out. SI.com, "Frank Lampard's 'Ghost Goal' Against Germany & the 8 Infamous Goals That Never Were," 27 June 2019

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

13 Sep 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 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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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

What made you want to look up rattle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make a temporary encampment

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