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

Definition of tinkle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

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

transitive verb

1 : to sound or make known (the time) by a tinkle
2a : to cause to make a tinkle
b : to produce by tinkling tinkle a tune



Definition of tinkle (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Synonyms for tinkle

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But this is a movie that's more efficient than emotionally affecting, a factor underlined by the heavy-handed use of Edward Shearmur's pensive score dominated by tinkling piano. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Four Good Days': Film Review | Sundance 2020," 26 Jan. 2020 On their shelves are the previous decade’s big moneymakers — tinkling meditation balls, replica swords, qipaos and noisemakers. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Chinatown without Chinese grocery stores, and the delicate balance of ethnic communities," 23 Sep. 2019 The Sugarplum Fairy, here called Sugar Rum Cherry, dances to a slow, cheeky, boom-chicka-boom number, decidedly naughtier than Tchaikovsky’s tinkling melody for the celesta. New York Times, "Visions of Sugar Rum Cherries Tap Dance in Her Head," 16 Dec. 2019 Rhoda meets Mary Richards, played by the show’s namesake, when Mary moves into the turreted Victorian house where Rhoda has fashioned a home in the attic, fringe beads tinkling in the doorway. Emily Langer, Washington Post, "Valerie Harper, actress beloved as the chronically single, irrepressibly funny Rhoda Morgenstern, dies at 80," 30 Aug. 2019 Ethereal notes of a glass harmonica, its sound resembling that of clinking glasses, tinkled as incense wafted through the air. National Geographic, "Was this hypnotic health craze an elaborate hoax or a medical breakthrough?," 5 Mar. 2019 Afternoon Tea at The Savoy Afternoon tea here takes place in the Thames Foyer, which features an enormous domed glass ceiling that floods the room with soft light, and a birdcage-like indoor gazebo, inside of which a pianist tinkles elegantly. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "15 Best Places for Afternoon Tea in London," 3 Mar. 2018 There’s often a pianist tinkling away in the corner of the airy elegant room in the afternoon. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "15 Best Places for Afternoon Tea in London," 3 Mar. 2018 The only sound breaking through the hot afternoon air comes from a snorting pair of cows in the neighbor’s yard, and tinkling wind chimes hang over the porch. Megan Spurrell, Condé Nast Traveler, "In Catemaco, Mexico's 'Land of the Sorcerers'," 29 Mar. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The tinkle of ornaments jostled. Giddy laughter, and the caroling tones of José Feliciano or Bing Crosby in the background. Paul Stephen, ExpressNews.com, "Easy Christmas morning empanadas — sweet and savory — and hot chocolate," 18 Dec. 2019 Light rain above tinkles musically, reaching a crescendo when heavier storms pass. Elizabeth Preston, Science | AAAS, "A growing sensory smog threatens the ability of fish to communicate, navigate, and survive," 20 June 2019 Sound designer Matt Reed mixed the actors’ voices with sounds that evoked the narratives, like the tinkle of a wine glass on a first date, or the mechanical creaks of a plane in a deep dive to the ground. Nora Mcgreevy, BostonGlobe.com, "‘Modern Love Live’ brings reflections on mortality, platonic love, and emergency room visits," 18 June 2019 The notes were few, as a large orchestra thinned to the tinkle of harp, mandolin and celesta littering soft, ethereal drones in the select strings and winds. Mark Swed, latimes.com, "Mahler's 'Song of the Earth' and sky and sea, the L.A. Phil way," 6 Apr. 2018 The music drones and burbles, tinkles and undulates, taking its time and lingering over instrumental stretches. New York Times, "15 Pop, Rock and Jazz Concerts to Check Out in NYC This Weekend," 5 Apr. 2018 The tags tinkle in the wind and give the dog a permanent sparkle. Mary Forgione, latimes.com, "Yeah, there's a giant bunny in that vineyard — no foolin' — and 9 animals, vegetables and antlers you'll want to stop and see," 1 Apr. 2018 The music drones and burbles, tinkles and undulates, taking its time and lingering over instrumental stretches as if people are still willing to experience a whole album from start to finish. Jon Pareles, New York Times, "Music Is a Sanctuary From Chaos on Yo La Tengo’s ‘There’s a Riot Going On’," 14 Mar. 2018 From the tinkle, the researchers fished out 181 bacteria spanning the diversity of microbes in the bladder and sequenced their genomes. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Never-before-seen viruses that can kill bacteria stream from women’s bladders," 1 Feb. 2018

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


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


1725, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for tinkle


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

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Time Traveler for tinkle

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for tinkle

Last Updated

6 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tinkle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tinkle?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=t&file=tinkle01. Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for tinkle


How to pronounce tinkle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tinkle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to make sounds like the sounds of a small bell
informal : to pass urine from the body



English Language Learners Definition of tinkle (Entry 2 of 2)

: the sound produced by a small bell or a similar sound
British, informal : a telephone call
informal : the act of passing urine from the body


tin·​kle | \ ˈtiŋ-kəl How to pronounce tinkle (audio) \
tinkled; tinkling

Kids Definition of tinkle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to make or cause to make short high ringing or clinking sounds



Kids Definition of tinkle (Entry 2 of 2)

: a short high ringing or clinking sound

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More from Merriam-Webster on tinkle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tinkle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tinkle

Spanish Central: Translation of tinkle

Nglish: Translation of tinkle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tinkle for Arabic Speakers

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