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

Keep scrolling for more

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 All the while, a soundtrack composed of children’s choirs and ukuleles rattle off in the distance, like the outtakes from a very productive iMac commercial studio session. Luke Winkie, Vulture, "The 20 Best Games on PlayStation Now," 4 May 2021 Musicians on the lookout for a sturdy and stable music stand that won’t rattle and shake when the volume gets turned up should definitely check out the GLEAM Metal Sheet Music Stand. Chris Hachey, BGR, "Best Music Stand," 29 Apr. 2021 Today, Germany’s Catholic bishops are taking steps that could again rattle the foundations of the world’s largest church. Tim Busch, WSJ, "Can Pope Francis Head Off a Schism?," 15 Apr. 2021 Rattlesnake master also grows there with seed pods that rattle when dried. Susan Degrane, chicagotribune.com, "Bring on the butterflies: Beverly area schools, residents, businesses join effort to Save the Monarchs," 13 Apr. 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 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 But the comments will rattle U.S.-Turkish relations, already on ice over a litany of disagreements, and could damage relations between Biden and Erdogan, who had a warm relationship with Trump. Ben Gittleson, ABC News, "Biden makes history by declaring killings of Armenians a 'genocide'," 24 Apr. 2021 Randle El could rattle off the names of a dozen people who impacted him at IU, including assistants Anthony Thompson and T.J. Weist. Jon Blau, The Indianapolis Star, "Antwaan Randle El's stardom for the Hoosiers leads to career as NFL player, coach," 14 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The quality noise canceling on the Life Q35 is exemplary and is able to cancel out external noises like aircraft engines, the hum of air-conditioning, keyboard sounds or the rhythmic rattle of a train running over railway tracks. Mark Sparrow, Forbes, "Soundcore’s New Life Q35 Noise Canceling Headphones Offer Incredible Value For Money," 27 Apr. 2021 But there are hopes that a spate of Big Tech earnings this week could give markets a boost, especially as discussions of higher capital gains taxes on the wealthy rattle Wall Street. Julia Horowitz, CNN, "The SPAC boom has 'screeched to a halt.' That may be good thing," 26 Apr. 2021 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Expect the two friends and collaborators to rattle off tales on songwriting, inspiration, their big breaks and more. Lars Brandle, Billboard, "Greg Kurstin and Dave Grohl Set for One-on-One at ASCAP Experience," 6 May 2021 Hiring strangers to wear masks and rattle the doors of classrooms without letting students or faculty know, shooting teachers with rubber bullets, students with fake blood lying in the hallway being asked to play the role of victims. Heidi Stevens, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Active shooter drills could get a lot less graphic if bill becomes law in Illinois. Here’s hoping.," 30 Apr. 2021 Aside from his production, Greenway's been much more of a physical presence on a regular basis — leveraging his 6-foot-6, 241-pound frame to sustain forechecks and rattle the opposition. Sarah Mclellan, Star Tribune, "Wild's Jordan Greenway seeking to build his game," 20 Apr. 2021 But after watching sophomore quarterback Nate Bell rattle off another big game — more than 300 total yards and four touchdowns — in a 30-21 win over Heritage in the Brentwood Bowl Friday, Hoefs deflected the credit. Mitch Stephens, San Francisco Chronicle, "Pandemic-altered high school football season - a year in the making - ends too soon," 19 Apr. 2021 Now around 350 people come through his doors to rattle off rounds. The Economist, "Jair Bolsonaro wants every Brazilian to have a gun," 17 Apr. 2021 It’s that energy that makes someone a fan, not their ability to rattle off the Fett clan’s genealogy. Adam Rogers, Wired, "Falcons, Lokis, Nerd Canons, and Why You Don’t Have to Care," 6 Apr. 2021 His candid chronicle of his binges and relationship with his brother's Beau's widow, Hallie Biden, will likely shock and rattle readers. Editors, USA TODAY, "Iran nuclear deal talks, Derek Chauvin trial, Baylor's title win: 5 things to know Tuesday," 6 Apr. 2021 The risk is that such a tax hike could rattle the stock market, forcing some investors to sell before the tax hits. Matt Egan, CNN, "Goldman Sachs: Biden's tax hikes won't be as big as he wants," 22 Mar. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about rattle

Time Traveler for rattle

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for rattle

Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rattle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rattle. Accessed 16 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!