tin·​tin·​nab·​u·​la·​tion | \ ˌtin-tə-ˌna-byə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce tintinnabulation (audio) \

Definition of tintinnabulation

1 : the ringing or sounding of bells
2 : a jingling or tinkling sound as if of bells

Synonyms for tintinnabulation


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If the sound of tintinnabulation rings a bell, that may be because it traces to a Latin interpretation of the sound a ringing bell makes. Our English word derives from tintinnabulum, the Latin word for "bell." That Latin word, in turn, comes from the verb tintinnare, which means "to ring, clang, or jingle." Like the English terms "ting" and "tinkle," tintinnare originated with a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it-that is, it is onomatopoeic. Edgar Allan Poe celebrates the sonic overtones of tintinnabulation in his poem "The Bells," which includes lines about "the tintinnabulation that so musically wells / From the bells, bells, bells, bells, / Bells, bells, bells-/ From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells."

Examples of tintinnabulation in a Sentence

the merry tintinnabulation of church bells
Recent Examples on the Web Shivaree, chthonian, erumpent, tintinnabulation, exonumia, requiescat, deipnosophist, omphaloskepsis, horripilation, deliquesce, apopemptic. Los Angeles Times, 26 Oct. 2021 Two dozen billiard balls roll on tracks, striking a series of devices that set off a tintinnabulation of bells, chimes and metallic clinks. Washington Post, 1 Aug. 2021 The delicate tintinnabulation of Adasiewicz’s vibes dovetailed with Reed’s telegraphic drum work, Reid’s amber cellos lines, Johnson’s silvery trumpet phrases and Heinemann’s warmly resonant bass. Howard Reich, chicagotribune.com, 27 Sep. 2020 Adasiewicz’s score reflects the impressionistic quality Christopher describes, the tintinnabulation of his vibraphone echoed in silvery streaks of melody from Berman’s cornet and washes of sound from Drake’s percussion. Howard Reich, chicagotribune.com, 2 Nov. 2017

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

First Known Use of tintinnabulation

1831, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tintinnabulation

Latin tintinnabulum bell, from tintinnare to ring, jingle, from tinnire

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The first known use of tintinnabulation was in 1831

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Cite this Entry

“Tintinnabulation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tintinnabulation. Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on tintinnabulation

Britannica English: Translation of tintinnabulation for Arabic Speakers


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