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Likely akin to Middle Dutch, Middle Low German, East Frisian tateren - “to chatter, babble”, possibly of imitative origin. Attested in 1481 in William Caxton's translation of “The History of Reynard the Fox” in the sense “to stutter”, probably borrowed from Middle Dutch.


tattle (third-person singular simple present tattles, present participle tattling, simple past and past participle tattled)

  1. (intransitive, pejorative) To report others' wrongdoings or violations; to tell on somebody; to gossip or to disclose incriminating information (usually said of children).
  2. (intransitive) To chatter.
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, Act 2 Scene 1
      BEATRICE. He were an excellent man that were made just in the mid-way between him and Benedick: the one is too like an image, and says nothing; and the other too like my lady's eldest son, evermore tattling.
    • Dryden
      the tattling quality of age, which is always narrative




tattle (uncountable)

  1. A tattletale.
  2. Gossip; idle talk.

Related terms[edit]