1

tinsel

noun tin·sel \ ˈtin(t)-səl also ˈtin-zəl \

Definition of tinsel

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

Examples of tinsel in a Sentence

  1. I like to decorate the Christmas tree with tinsel.

  2. He's not attracted to the tinsel and glitter of Hollywood.

Recent Examples of tinsel from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of tinsel

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

tinsel Synonyms


2

tinsel

adjective

Definition of tinsel

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

First Known Use of tinsel

1575


3

tinsel

verb

Definition of tinsel

tinseled or tinselled; tinseling or tinselling play \ˈtin(t)-s(ə-)liŋ also ˈtin-zə-liŋ\
transitive verb
1 : to interweave, overlay, or adorn with or as if with tinsel
2 : to impart a specious brightness to

Recent Examples of tinsel from the Web

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

1594


TINSEL Defined for English Language Learners

tinsel

noun

Definition of tinsel for English Language Learners

  • : thin strips of shiny metal or paper that are used as decoration

  • : something that seems attractive or appealing but is of little worth


TINSEL Defined for Kids

tinsel

noun tin·sel \ ˈtin-səl \

Definition of tinsel for Students

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


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up tinsel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

allowing a liquid or gas to pass through

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu-jedi-training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!