tell·ing | \ˈte-liŋ \

Definition of telling 

: carrying great weight and producing a marked effect : effective, expressive the most telling evidence

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Other Words from telling

tellingly \ˈte-liŋ-lē \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for telling

valid, sound, cogent, convincing, telling mean having such force as to compel serious attention and usually acceptance. valid implies being supported by objective truth or generally accepted authority. a valid reason for being absent a valid marriage sound implies a basis of flawless reasoning or of solid grounds. a sound proposal for reviving the economy cogent may stress either weight of sound argument and evidence or lucidity of presentation. the prosecutor's cogent summation won over the jury convincing suggests a power to overcome doubt, opposition, or reluctance to accept. a convincing argument for welfare reform telling stresses an immediate and crucial effect striking at the heart of a matter. a telling example of bureaucratic waste

Examples of telling in a Sentence

Her experience is a telling example of why the nation's educational system needs to be changed. The most telling moment in the case was when the victim took the stand.

Recent Examples on the Web

In each chapter, Prose curates her curation, telling us not only which books and authors to look at, but where in each of them to look for the choicest, most telling views. Meredith Maran, The Christian Science Monitor, "'What to Read and Why' shares a personal love of authors and titles," 5 July 2018 To top it all off, Malik was seen entering and leaving his ex's NYC apartment in the same hoodie, which some fans took to be a very telling clue. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Are Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik Back Together?," 12 June 2018 Matt Ritchie provides Newcastle’s attacking outlet from the right, and his recent winner at home to Arsenal was proof of his ability to make telling contributions in big matches., "Watford vs Newcastle Preview: Form Guide, Previous Encounter, Key Battle, Team News & Prediction," 4 May 2018 Here are some of the most telling points that could sway the fate of the trophy in either direction. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "How the World Cup final between France and Croatia will be won," 13 July 2018 Tuesday’s display against Belgium, however, was arguably a subtler, but more telling display of what makes Mbappé unlike any other talent on earth. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "France’s Kylian Mbappé Shows Why He Is the World Cup’s Breakout Star," 10 July 2018 But for a group that thinks of itself first and foremost as a live band, U2’s near-erasure of Zooropa from its set lists is the most telling indicator of the album’s legacy. Dylan Scott, Vox, "The unexpected resonance of Zooropa, U2’s least-remembered album, 25 years later," 5 July 2018 The most telling test of Trump’s influence was in South Carolina, where McMaster — elevated to the state’s top office last year when Nikki Haley became U.N. ambassador — had seemed in jeopardy. Time, "Henry McMaster, Backed by President Trump, Wins South Carolina Governor Primary," 28 June 2018 The shape of such a cloud can be very telling, too: Magnetic forces make pancake-like clouds, turbulence forms needle-like clouds and thermal forces result in roundish, blobby clouds, Tassis said. Amina Khan,, "Scientists develop a 3-D view of an interstellar cloud, where stars are born," 10 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'telling.' 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 telling

1819, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for telling

Last Updated

6 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for telling

The first known use of telling was in 1819

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English Language Learners Definition of telling

: producing a strong or important effect

: giving information about someone or something without intending to

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Comments on telling

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


to teach someone the beliefs of a group

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