Definition of rattle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈradl/


1Make or cause to make a rapid succession of short, sharp knocking sounds, typically as a result of shaking and striking repeatedly against a hard surface or object: [with object]: he rattled some change in his pocket [no object]: there was a sound of bottles rattling as he stacked the crates
More example sentences
  • To her distress, the person persisted, the door shaking and rattling with his knocks.
  • Then, there was this scratching metallic sound and… the whole elevator shook and rattled.
  • The plan was to build a wall that shook and rattled, simulating an earthquake, complete with sound effects.
1.1 [no object, with adverbial of direction] (Of a vehicle or its driver or passengers) move or travel somewhere while making a rattle: trains rattled past at frequent intervals
More example sentences
  • Soon, dozens of guests began pouring in, their carriages rattling past the front door and around to the back.
  • The carriage rattled along the narrow, winding streets to Montemarte, where the Basilica of the Sacre Couer lay.
  • Drags of empty coal cars rattle past on their westward run.
jolt, bump, bounce, jounce, shake
1.2 [no object] (rattle around in) Be in or occupy (an unnecessarily or undesirably spacious room or building).
Example sentences
  • Well, no need to rattle around in a double room or cabin while being penalised with a single person supplement.
  • The maintenance backlog alone was more than 100 million and there were too few pupils rattling around in too many schools.
  • She said that he had an entire subaquatic palace to rattle around in.
2 [with object] informal Cause (someone) to feel nervous, worried, or irritated: she turned quickly, rattled by his presence
More example sentences
  • Jack's presence rattled Wilson, reminding him of Henry as a little boy showing Jack how to work the old cash register.
  • The sight of Anna, not the slightest bit ruffled, rattled him severely.
  • He looked at the capable assistant with sincere eyes knowing that this would rattle him into some flustered explanation of his whereabouts.
unnerve, disconcert, disturb, fluster, shake, perturb, discompose, discomfit, ruffle, throw
informal faze


1A rapid succession of short, sharp, hard sounds: the rattle of teacups on the tray
More example sentences
  • In the distance there is the rapid rattle of a Kalashnikov.
  • Somewhere around Parliament House, the rattle turned to a clunk.
  • There's the rattle and clang of the air lock opening and closing, and it seems she has worn her lead-weighted diving boots home.
clatter, clank, clink, clang;
jingle, jangle
1.1A gurgling sound in the throat of a dying person.
Example sentences
  • He laughed and I noticed there was a wheezy rattle in his throat.
  • People take a long time to die, accompanied by the cracking of bone, the resistance of gristle, dire last-gasp gurgles and rattles.
  • Her body went rigid, and the moan became a rattle deep in her throat.
2A thing used to make a rapid succession of short, sharp sounds, in particular.
Example sentences
  • Traditional musical instruments included rattles, which were prominent in ceremonies.
  • It includes ten leg rattles worn by dancers as both a composite musical instrument and a protective device.
  • The second movement opens with timpani and rattles, followed by almost electronic sounding little looped musical figures that litter all of Glass's compositions.
noisemaker, shaker, rain stick, maraca
2.1A baby’s toy consisting of a container filled with small pellets that makes a noise when shaken.
Example sentences
  • The usual teddies, rattles and baby outfits just weren't good enough for five-week-old Ikra Yaseen.
  • These ideas are alluded to in this affable portrait by the angelic baby grasping a toy rattle while being tenderly held by its mother.
  • Thousands of baby rattles will also be delivered to US senators.
2.2The set of horny rings at the end of a rattlesnake’s tail, shaken with a dry buzzing sound as a warning.
Example sentences
  • Rattlesnakes shake their tail rattles as aposematic warnings.
  • The forked tongue darted from his lips, and the tip of his tail began the familiar sound of a rattle.



rattle someone's cage

informal Make someone feel angry or annoyed.
Example sentences
  • I should like to ask Tom Lubbock: who rattled your cage?
  • As The Jackhammer rattled my cage with uppercuts and hooks to the temple, I defended myself, but only made a nominal effort to punch back.
  • It appears to have rattled my cage significantly.

rattle sabers

Threaten to take aggressive action. See also saber-rattling.
Example sentences
  • Ministers are also not required to become emotionally involved, or to throw down ultimatums, or to rattle sabers and make dire threats.
  • Why are India and Pakistan still rattling sabres and missiles at one another over Kashmir?
  • But if it was so successful, why are we rattling sabers now?

Phrasal verbs


rattle something off

Say, perform, or produce something quickly and effortlessly: he rattled off some instructions
More example sentences
  • She rattled it off quickly and Zenn put his gun away.
  • Wellman's actors rattled their dialogue off like machine gun fire while Del Ruth's players took their time to enunciate clearly.
  • This weekend, I started reading it again, and rattled it off in a couple of sessions, mainly on the train on the way to Cork and back.
reel off, recite, list, fire off, run through, enumerate

rattle on/away

Talk rapidly and at length, especially in an inane or boring way.
Example sentences
  • While Pataki rattled on endlessly about his shampoo, Whitman became very vocal about missing The Weekly Standard.
  • Mark and Scott had hit it off spectacularly, rattling on about soccer, airplanes, their favorite movies and t.v. shows, and the like.
  • ‘I love your look today Lori,’ Tiffany by now was clenching her fists as Dale began rattling on.
prattle, babble, chatter, prate, go on, jabber, gibber, ramble
informal gab, yak, yap



Pronunciation: /ˈratl-ē/ Pronunciation: /ˈratlē/
Example sentences
  • The 80s model was a rattly, angular, unreliable thing.
  • It looks exactly like that, although the fridge is no longer a rattly aquamarine-coloured thing from the early 70s.
  • I am on a rattly bus heading past a huge ancient pyramid.


Middle English (as a verb): related to Middle Dutch and Low German ratelen, of imitative origin.

Words that rhyme with rattle

battle, cattle, chattel, embattle, prattle, Seattle, tattle

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: rat·tle

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