tin·​sel | \ ˈtin(t)-səl How to pronounce tinsel (audio) also ˈtin-zəl \

Definition of tinsel

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : threads, strips, or sheets of metal, paper, or plastic used to produce a glittering and sparkling appearance in fabrics, yarns, or decorations
2 : something superficially attractive or glamorous but of little real worth disfigured by no gaudy tinsel of rhetoric or declamation— Thomas Jefferson



Definition of tinsel (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : made of or covered with tinsel
2a : cheaply gaudy : tawdry
b : specious, superficial tinsel promises


tinseled or tinselled; tinseling or tinselling\ ˈtin(t)-​s(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce tinsel (audio) also  ˈtin-​zə-​liŋ \

Definition of tinsel (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to interweave, overlay, or adorn with or as if with tinsel
2 : to impart a specious brightness to

Synonyms for tinsel

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of tinsel in a Sentence

Noun I like to decorate the Christmas tree with tinsel. He's not attracted to the tinsel and glitter of Hollywood.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Will tinsel and a mirror ball be part of the experience? Joy Ashford, BostonGlobe.com, 15 July 2022 It was made of yellow satin, metallic thread embroidery, midnight blue velvet, yellow tulle with applied tinsel, and glass pearls. Emily Burack, Town & Country, 2 May 2022 Kristen McMenamy's duet of braids was elevated by her length, side-part, and silvered shade, a cool complement to Megan Thee Stallion's brush verdant (and tinsel-strewn) half-up hair. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, 13 Feb. 2022 Ella Emhoff admired the tinsel knitting on her dress. Steff Yotka, Vogue, 5 May 2022 In February alone, the rapper was spied rocking hair tinsel on three separate occasions. Gabi Thorne, Allure, 7 Mar. 2022 Mendes's golden tinsel dress, and her glowy makeup look, is meant to channel how the Electric Light dress was lit. Emily Burack, Town & Country, 2 May 2022 The first picture in the set of photos features Kardashian in a glittering tinsel jacket and silver boots crouching down to speak with Davidson, who is laid out on the floor in a plaid shirt and jeans and angling his head up to speak to her. Starr Bowenbank, Billboard, 11 Mar. 2022 Meanwhile, at Moe’s Bingo, the games go on in an ambiance of forlorn entertainment worthy of the hanging tinsel. al, 13 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Connor’s new prints, on the other hand, made by the industrial dye-sublimation process on aluminum, are but tinseled imitations of her own extraordinary originals. Charles Desmarais, San Francisco Chronicle, 8 Mar. 2018 And while my beard has tinseled, the intervening years haven’t exactly been kind to Rome either. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, 1 June 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tinsel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of tinsel


1538, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1575, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tinsel


Middle English tyneseyle cloth interwoven with metallic thread, probably from Anglo-French tencelé, past participle of tenceler, estenceler to sparkle — more at stencil

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Dictionary Entries Near tinsel

tin salt



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Statistics for tinsel

Last Updated

2 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Tinsel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tinsel. Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for tinsel


tin·​sel | \ ˈtin-səl How to pronounce tinsel (audio) \

Kids Definition of tinsel

1 : a thread or strip of metal or plastic used for decoration
2 : something that seems attractive but is of little worth

More from Merriam-Webster on tinsel

Nglish: Translation of tinsel for Spanish Speakers


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