From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



  • IPA(key): /ˈɹæ.təl/, [ˈɹæ.tɫ̩]
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ætəl

Etymology 1[edit]

Middle English [Term?], from Old English hratele, ultimately imitative. The noun (c. 1500) is from the verb.


rattle (third-person singular simple present rattles, present participle rattling, simple past and past participle rattled)

  1. (transitive, ergative) To create a rattling sound by shaking or striking.
    to rattle a chain
    Rattle the can of cat treats if you need to find Fluffy.
    • 2011 February 5, Michael Kevin Darling, “Tottenham 2 - 1 Bolton”, in BBC[1]:
      It was a deflating end to the drama for the hosts and they appeared ruffled, with Bolton going close to a leveller when Johan Elmander rattled the bar with a header from Matt Taylor’s cross.
  2. (transitive, figurative, informal) To scare, startle, unsettle, or unnerve.
    • 1923 May 17, P[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, “(please specify the page)”, in The Inimitable Jeeves, Harmondsworth, Middlesex [London]: Penguin Books, published 1979, →ISBN:
      “Tut!” said old Bittlesham. “Tut is right”, I agreed. Then the rumminess of the thing struck me. “But if you haven’t dropped a parcel over the race,” I said, “why are you looking so rattled?”
    • 2014 August 26, Richard Rae, “Manchester United humbled by MK Dons after Will Grigg hits double”, in The Guardian:
      That United were rattled, mentally as well as at times physically – legitimately so – was beyond question. Nick Powell clipped a crisp drive a foot over the bar, but otherwise Milton Keynes had the best of the remainder of the first half.
    • 2023 February 17, Erika Solomon, Christopher F. Schuetze, Julian E. Barnes, “A Russian Mole in Germany Sows Suspicions at Home, and Beyond”, in The New York Times[2], →ISSN:
      The German authorities are still trying to determine what damage their mole may have done. But the discovery of a double agent has rattled German political circles.
  3. (intransitive) To make a rattling noise; to make noise by or from shaking.
    I wish the dashboard in my car would quit rattling.
  4. (transitive, obsolete) To assail, annoy, or stun with a rattling noise.
  5. (transitive, obsolete) To scold; to rail at.
  6. To drive or ride briskly, so as to make a clattering.
    We rattled along for a couple of miles.
  7. To make a clatter with one's voice; to talk rapidly and idly; often with on or away.
    She rattled on for an hour.
  8. (UK, slang) To experience withdrawal from drugs.
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
See also[edit]


rattle (countable and uncountable, plural rattles)

a baby with a rattle (2)
  1. Object that rattles.
    1. Any of various plants of the genera Rhinanthus and Pedicularis, whose seeds produce a rattling noise in the wind. [from 10th c.]
    2. A baby’s toy designed to make sound when shaken, usually containing loose grains or pellets in a hollow container. [from 16th c.]
    3. (music) A musical instrument that makes a rattling sound. [from 17th c.]
      • 1614, Walter Ralegh [i.e., Walter Raleigh], The Historie of the World [], London: [] William Stansby for Walter Burre, [], →OCLC, (please specify |book=1 to 5):
        The rattles of Isis and the cymbals of Brasilea nearly enough resemble each other.
    4. (zoology) The set of rings at the end of a rattlesnake's tail which produce a rattling sound. [from 17th c.]
      The rattle of the rattlesnake is composed of the hardened terminal scales, loosened in succession, but not cast off, and modified in form so as to make a series of loose, hollow joints.
  2. Rattling sound.
    1. (onomatopoeia) A rapid succession of percussive sounds, as made by loose objects shaking or vibrating against one another. [from 16th c.]
      I wish they would fix the rattle under my dashboard.
    2. (now rare) Noisy, rapid talk; babble. [from 17th c.]
      • 1627, G[eorge] H[akewill], An Apologie of the Power and Prouidence of God in the Gouernment of the World. [], Oxford, Oxfordshire: [] Iohn Lichfield and William Turner, [], →OCLC:
        All this adoe about the golden age is but an empty rattle and frivolous conceipt.
    3. (uncountable, now rare) Trivial chatter; gossip. [from 17th c.]
      • 1782, Frances Burney, Cecilia, III.v.5:
        “And pray where, Lady Honoria,” cried Mrs. Delvile, “do you contrive to pick up all this rattle?”
    4. A noisy, senseless talker; a jabberer. [from 17th c.]
    5. (obsolete) A scolding; a sharp rebuke. [17th–19th c.]
    6. A rough noise produced in the throat by air passing through obstructed airways; croup; a death rattle. [from 18th c.]
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Arabic رَطْل(raṭl), variant of classical رِطْل(riṭl), ultimately from Ancient Greek λίτρα (lítra). Doublet of liter.


rattle (plural rattles)

  1. (historical units of measure) Alternative form of rottol: a former Middle Eastern and North African unit of dry weight usually equal to 1–5 lb (0.5–2.5 kg).