Definition of tinsel in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtɪns(ə)l/


[mass noun]
1A form of decoration consisting of thin strips of shiny metal foil attached to a long piece of thread: a room bedecked with tinsel and fairy lights
More example sentences
  • Another reader said hanging Christmas tinsel or aluminium foil strips in trees where fruit bats feed also works well.
  • There wasn't a single extra piece of tinsel, no baubles, no lights, no street entertainment at all.
  • In one striking image, a porch is shown elaborately decorated for Christmas with tinsel, stockings, ornaments and toys.
rare clinquant
1.1Showy or superficial attractiveness or glamour: his taste for the tinsel of the art world
More example sentences
  • The presence of glamorous tinsel stars add more sheen to any function with frenzied crowd trying to have a glimpse of their favourite stars.
  • But it's alternative; it's for people who think glamour is not tinsel.
  • At the end, she waved to the crowd with a tinsel glamour and sported a forced, yet innocent smile, revealing her missing tooth.
informal flashiness, flash, flashness, glitz, glitziness, ritziness, swankiness, swank, splashiness
ostentatious, pretentious, showy, conspicuous, obtrusive, flamboyant, gaudy, garish, tawdry, meretricious, trashy, brash, vulgar, loud, extravagant, fancy, ornate, affected, theatrical, overdone, over-elaborate;
informal flash, flashy, over the top, OTT, glitzy, ritzy, swanky, splashy
North American informal superfly, bling-bling, dicty



(US tinseled) adjective
Example sentences
  • Sligo's Christmas decorations had never been this spectacular, each dazzling tinselled window upstaging the next.
  • Casino will be lit up, tinselled and humming for Christmas.
  • Young girls in hip-huggers waved tinselled flags reading Shalom [peace] in Hebrew.


Pronunciation: /ˈtɪns(ə)li/
Example sentences
  • Simultaneously, costume designs grow ever more formulaic - some skimpy square inches of spandex, a few festoons of beads, a few tinselly loops of braid, and a feather or two, with a few dozen colour variations.
  • Doesn't it mean something that at Christmas a real proper song might be number one instead of the usual tinselly tat?
  • Candlelight, tinselly twirls, soft focus spots and moody atmospherics provided an intimate setting.


Late Middle English (denoting fabric either interwoven with metallic thread or spangled): from Old French estincele 'spark', or estinceler 'to sparkle', based on Latin scintilla 'a spark'.

  • Sparkly tinsel comes from Latin scintilla ‘a spark’, which is also the source of scintillate (early 17th century). In medieval times tinsel was fabric woven with metallic thread or spangles—it became something like our familiar shiny strips in the late 16th century. The idea of glitter was picked up during the 1970s in Tinseltown, a nickname for Hollywood and its cinema.

Words that rhyme with tinsel


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: tin¦sel

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