tell·​ing | \ ˈte-liŋ How to pronounce telling (audio) \

Definition of telling

: carrying great weight and producing a marked effect : effective, expressive the most telling evidence

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Other Words from telling

tellingly \ ˈte-​liŋ-​lē How to pronounce telling (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for telling

valid, sound, cogent, convincing, telling mean having such force as to compel serious attention and usually acceptance. valid implies being supported by objective truth or generally accepted authority. a valid reason for being absent a valid marriage sound implies a basis of flawless reasoning or of solid grounds. a sound proposal for reviving the economy cogent may stress either weight of sound argument and evidence or lucidity of presentation. the prosecutor's cogent summation won over the jury convincing suggests a power to overcome doubt, opposition, or reluctance to accept. a convincing argument for welfare reform telling stresses an immediate and crucial effect striking at the heart of a matter. a telling example of bureaucratic waste

Examples of telling in a Sentence

Her experience is a telling example of why the nation's educational system needs to be changed. The most telling moment in the case was when the victim took the stand.
Recent Examples on the Web Perhaps most telling, there are reaction shots of both friend and foe horrified by Batman’s brutal takedowns of criminals. Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times, 16 Oct. 2021 The presence of Betts in the NLCS only underscores a strange reality that provides a telling look at the state of baseball in 2021. Jared Diamond, WSJ, 15 Oct. 2021 Driving both of the new V6 engines, especially right after experiencing the previous Tundra’s V8, was quite telling. Karl Brauer, Forbes, 12 Oct. 2021 My personal feelings on Michael Darby and Bravo’s willingness to place him on our TV screens are quite clear, but Candiace’s choice of language to describe their relationship is very telling. Shamira Ibrahim, Vulture, 10 Oct. 2021 This will be a very telling game in terms of how good the Steelers secondary is. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, 4 Oct. 2021 This book is vulnerable and extremely telling of Hoang as a person and author. Marie Claire, 2 Oct. 2021 But there couldn’t have been a sadder or more telling juxtaposition, one of the shining seasons of this program meeting to celebrate on a Saturday that defined so many problems inside the team now. Dave Hyde,, 18 Sep. 2021 Since states report them irregularly, experts say looking at daily COVID-19 deaths isn't very telling. Bayliss Wagner, USA TODAY, 9 Sep. 2021

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

1819, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for telling

Time Traveler

The first known use of telling was in 1819

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Last Updated

18 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Telling.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of telling

: producing a strong or important effect
: giving information about someone or something without intending to

More from Merriam-Webster on telling

Nglish: Translation of telling for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of telling for Arabic Speakers


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