Definition of rattle in English:

rattle

Line breaks: rat¦tle
Pronunciation: /ˈrat(ə)l
 
/

verb

  • 1Make or cause to make a rapid succession of short, sharp knocking sounds: [no object]: the roof rattled with little gusts of wind [with object]: he rattled some change in his pocket
    More example sentences
    • A sharp series of knocks rattled the door in its frame.
    • To sit in it on a windy day was an experience in itself as you listened to the wind whistling through and rattling the galvanised roof.
    • Thunder rattled the windows and lightning gave an eerie and unworldly light to halls.
    Synonyms
  • 1.1 [no object, with adverbial of direction] (Of a vehicle or its occupants) move or travel with a knocking sound: 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.
    Synonyms
    jolt, bump, bounce, shake, vibrate, jar; British judder
    rare jounce
  • 1.2 [no object] (rattle about/around in) Be in or occupy (an unnecessarily spacious room or building): the house was too big—we just rattled around in it
    More 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.

noun

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  • 2A thing used to make a rattling sound, in particular:
    More 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.
  • 2.1A baby’s toy consisting of a container filled with small pellets, which makes a noise when shaken.
    More 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.
  • 2.2British A wooden device that makes a loud noise when whirled around, formerly used by spectators at football matches.
    More example sentences
    • In 50 years the mouse has replaced the rattle as the football fans' accessory of choice.
    • Prayer wheels are the spiritual equivalent of football rattles, though the motivation is not quite the same.
    • Heck, there were even folk with good old-fashioned wooden rattles among the 5,449 crowd.
  • 2.3The set of horny rings at the end of a rattlesnake’s tail, shaken as a warning.
    More 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.
  • 3 archaic A person who talks incessantly in a lively or inane way: he is such a rattle!

Phrases

rattle someone's cage (or chain)

informal Anger or irritate someone: put the pressure on him—rattle his cage
More 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.
Synonyms

rattle sabres

Threaten to take aggressive action: we’ve got the miners rattling sabres again See also sabre-rattling.
More 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.
Synonyms
reel off, recite, list rapidly, fire off, run through, enumerate
informal spiel off

rattle on/away

Talk rapidly and at length, especially in an inane way: she found herself rattling on about unhappiness and happiness
More example sentencesSynonyms
prattle, babble, chatter, gabble, prate, go on, run on, jabber, jibber-jabber, gibber, blether, blather, blither, ramble, maunder, drivel, twitter
informal gab, yak, yackety-yak, yap, yabber, yatter
British informal witter, rabbit, chunter, waffle
Scottish & Irish informal slabber
North American informal run off at the mouth
archaic twaddle, clack, twattle

Derivatives

rattly

adjective (rattlier, rattliest)
More 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.

Origin

Middle English: related to Middle Dutch and Low German ratelen, of imitative origin.

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Word of the day coloratura
Pronunciation: ˌkələrəˈto͝orə
noun
elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody