tell·​ing | \ ˈte-liŋ How to pronounce telling (audio) \

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 How to pronounce telling (audio) \ 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 Perhaps most telling, however, was that Wiseman was by himself. Connor Letourneau,, "An inside look at how Warriors plan to handle James Wiseman’s development," 21 Dec. 2020 And a look at the closing stops by President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are very telling. Paul Steinhauser, Fox News, "The closing strategy: A look at Biden and Trump's day of campaigning before the election," 2 Nov. 2020 But the failures — the signings of Gio dos Santos, Michael Ciani, Aleksandar Katai, Jorgen Skjelvik, Jermaine Jones and João Pedro and the trade of Gyasi Zardes — have been far more telling. Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times, "Commentary: Galaxy flash some grit in win over Real Salt Lake, but team’s problems run deep," 1 Nov. 2020 The most telling sign of improvement: An eventual recovery in the number of overall statewide jobs lost during the pandemic as rising in-migration pushes Arizona's population above 7.5 million sometime in 2021. Russ Wiles, The Arizona Republic, "ASU forecast: Arizona, U.S. could be back near economic normal in 2021," 1 Dec. 2020 The result is an up-close portrait of the overlapping cultural spheres of fin de siècle Paris, seen from a new and telling perspective. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "Best Art Books of 2020," 26 Nov. 2020 Perhaps just as telling, many of the transition officials had a hand in the 2009 stimulus, to date the largest government investment in clean energy and the model for Biden’s climate plan. Jean Chemnick, Scientific American, "Biden Stocks Transition Teams with Climate Experts," 14 Nov. 2020 Even more telling, a small infection control unit that had been funded through federal grants disappeared in 2019. Dave Altimari,, "Unprepared: Lapses in planning, communication and safety left Connecticut’s nursing homes exposed when the coronavirus pandemic struck in force," 18 Oct. 2020 Most telling, though, is that things only deteriorated from the end of that first quarter. Frank Bodani, USA TODAY, "Penn State hits new low with resounding loss to Maryland," 8 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for telling

Time Traveler

The first known use of telling was in 1819

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Statistics for telling

Last Updated

28 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Telling.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for telling


How to pronounce telling (audio)

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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