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tin·​kle ˈtiŋ-kəl How to pronounce tinkle (audio)
tinkled; tinkling ˈtiŋ-k(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce tinkle (audio)

intransitive verb

: to make or emit a tinkle or a sound suggestive of a tinkle

transitive verb

: to sound or make known (the time) by a tinkle
: to cause to make a tinkle
: to produce by tinkling
tinkle a tune


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: a series of short high ringing or clinking sounds
: a jingling effect in verse or prose

Examples of tinkle in a Sentence

Verb The ice tinkled in the glass. A piano was tinkling in the background. He tinkled a small bell. Noun the soothing tinkle of the wind chime on the back porch
Recent Examples on the Web
To me, the tinkling glasses and ringing silverware are easily ignorable, the hodgepodge of clinks and clatters immediately fading into the background. Ct Jones, Rolling Stone, 4 Apr. 2024 Heavy gold jewelry encircled her neck and wrists and dangled from her nose and earlobes, so that every movement created a tinkling rustle of metal against metal. Amanda Taub, New York Times, 8 Dec. 2023 As the crash pulse launches forward, the door panels buckle and the erupting windows send a blizzard of glass tinkling into the Silverado's grille. Oliver Broudy, Men's Health, 17 Aug. 2023 Think of it this way: Those ice cubes tinkling merrily in your glass are a form of energy storage, albeit on a really micro-scale. IEEE Spectrum, 11 Mar. 2019 In her design studio, Tory gave us a tour of the collection, from its retro-futurist silhouettes to the tinkling bells accenting the skirts and hairnets. Chloe Malle, Vogue, 12 Sep. 2023 With each step, their cooking pans tinkled like wind chimes. Lizzie Johnson and Lauren Tierney, Anchorage Daily News, 27 July 2023 Goats, on the other hand, are relatively quiet — save the occasional bleating and bell tinkling — and can easily access steep hills and canyons that machines would not be able to manage, said Cris Sarabia, conservation director of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy. Elvia Limón, Los Angeles Times, 27 June 2023 Gelb, a doc veteran who’s covered everything from chefs (Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Wolfgang) to cars (A Faster Horse), knows how to move folks down memory lanes as briskly as possible, with stock tinkling pianos underscoring all of the emotional moments. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 16 June 2023
With a swish of metal that was something akin to the tinkle of windchimes, the British Vogue contributor, modeling a dress covered entirely in metal discs, arrived in style: with London designer of the moment Marco Capaldo acting as her knight in shining 16Arlington. Alice Newbold, Vogue, 4 Dec. 2023 Outside the window, light glints off the pool, and a stone waterfall tinkles. Alex Morris, Rolling Stone, 17 Apr. 2023 Some of the nuts landed with a metallic tinkle. Kiliii Yüyan, History & Culture, 17 Dec. 2020 There’s a steady wind stirring on that cloudy June day, and the chimes on the farm store tinkle. Rachael Moeller Gorman, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Mar. 2023 The manufacturer describes the sound as a clear tinkle, though some users may find it a bit tinny to their ears. Kate McGregor, Better Homes & Gardens, 24 Mar. 2023 Occasional chants, chatter, and the tinkle of brass bells are interspersed with the calls of mynas. Mahima Jain, WIRED, 18 Mar. 2023 The concept, according to ELP CEO and president Chris Helfrich, was to stir up the same type of excitement and joy kids feel when the ice cream comes tinkle-belling down their street on a hot summer day. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, 30 Nov. 2022 Soon, the air is alive with the deep thump of the tuba, the tiny tinkle of the triangle and everything in between, melting into a soothing melody. The New York Times, New York Times, 6 Oct. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tinkle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English, frequentative of tinken to tinkle, of imitative origin

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1668, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of tinkle was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near tinkle

Cite this Entry

“Tinkle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tinkle. Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


tinkled; tinkling
: to make or cause to make a series of short high ringing or clinking sounds
tinkle noun

More from Merriam-Webster on tinkle

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