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

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 The primary processor was always updating the cross-telling drum, which the standby system would read if brought online. Frank O’brien, Ars Technica, 4 Jan. 2022 What's even more telling is that one in three people would quit their jobs if they were no longer allowed to work remotely after the pandemic. Laura Colombo, Forbes, 6 Dec. 2021 To Shanzhai Lyric — the artistic collaboration of Alexandra Tatarsky and Ming Lin — covert accounts of a place or a time are often more telling than official records. Diana Budds, Curbed, 28 Oct. 2021 The most telling and humorously heartfelt parts of her story come when writing about her time at her grandmother’s home in Seoul, where Zauner and her mother bonded over traditions of food and family. Chris Willman, Variety, 17 Dec. 2021 The day before their breakup announcement, the former Yankees player posted a very telling video to Instagram stories featuring a series of photos from happier days with Lopez, including one with their names written in sand. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, 17 Apr. 2021 The most telling thing about 6-foot-2, 320-pound left tackle Ikem Ekwonu, or number to be precise, is 154. Bryce Miller Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Dec. 2021 Several sites did not include Kingsbury on their lists of Oklahoma football coaching candidates, which is perhaps very telling. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, 30 Nov. 2021 But how Xavier responds to what happens early in the season will be very telling. Adam Baum, The Enquirer, 10 Nov. 2021

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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Last Updated

15 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Telling.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for telling



English Language Learners Definition of telling

: producing a strong or important effect
: giving information about someone or something without intending to

More from Merriam-Webster on telling

Nglish: Translation of telling for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of telling for Arabic Speakers


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