Definition of telltale in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtelˌtāl/


Revealing, indicating, or betraying something: the telltale bulge of a concealed weapon
More example sentences
  • Most people who lose weight from only dieting develop telltale signs of this, by having a lot of loose skin, as opposed to the well-toned, firm body of someone who is eating correctly and exercising.
  • Then he notes the telltale faint imprints of claws.
  • That telltale pressure is one of the hallmarks of acute sinusitis.


1A person, especially a child, who reports others' wrongdoings or reveals their secrets.
Example sentences
  • I don't recommend this because it is a one-way process that can't be undone and nobody likes telltales.
  • I guess being pirates we don't like telltales.
2A device or object that automatically gives a visual indication of the state or presence of something.
Example sentences
  • Additional reinforcement was provided by a pair of 1/2-inch diameter, black iron pipes which were used as telltales.
  • He said the only area of movement he had been able to detect was where the balcony was attached to the front wall, but suggested telltales should be cemented across the cracks to see if they were getting worse.
2.1(On a sailboat) a piece of string or fabric that shows the direction and force of the wind.
Example sentences
  • If the outside telltale flutters, let the sail out.
  • Flags and pennants are also used as telltales on a sailing ship that show the direction of the wind.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: tell·tale

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