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 tellingly (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 most telling moment of how the media covered impeachment may have come, oddly enough, on Fox News. Washington Post, "The two big flaws of the media’s impeachment coverage — and what went right," 21 Dec. 2019 There's a telling moment when Jewell, stunned by his treatment, has to be bullied by his lawyer into standing up for himself. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "What to Watch (and Skip) in Theaters and on Netflix This Weekend," 13 Dec. 2019 There was a telling moment at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday morning. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "Nancy Pelosi Is Dictating the Democrats’ Impeachment Strategy," 10 Dec. 2019 The most telling thing of all Thursday morning was who else was in that courtroom. al, "The Alabama Democratic Party versus … a whole bunch of people," 6 Dec. 2019 In the movie’s most telling moment, Bergoglio has just been named pope and is being hustled into the super-special pristine-white pope uniform. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "The Two Popes Is a Portrait of Complicated Friendship—With a Dash of Papal Pizazz," 26 Nov. 2019 This was the most telling image from my take of the fight. John Kuntz, cleveland, "Staff photographer John Kuntz’s Top 10 photos of the past 10 years," 26 Dec. 2019 Perhaps the most telling testament to how indispensable the platforms are to the movement is that both have suffered cyberattacks originating in China meant to knock them offline. Timothy Mclaughlin, Wired, "How Hong Kong’s Protests Turned Into a Mad Max Tableau," 21 Dec. 2019 Of all the wine caves in Napa, Hall is an interesting — and possibly very telling — choice for Buttigieg’s fund raiser. Esther Mobley,, "What does Hall winery’s wine cave tell us about Pete Buttigieg?," 20 Dec. 2019

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

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Telling.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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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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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).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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