verb (used without object), rat·tled, rat·tling.

  1. to give out or cause a rapid succession of short, sharp sounds, as in consequence of agitation and repeated concussions: The windows rattled in their frames.
  2. to move or go, especially rapidly, with such sounds: The car rattled along the highway.
  3. to talk rapidly; chatter: He rattled on for an hour about his ailments.

verb (used with object), rat·tled, rat·tling.

  1. to cause to rattle: He rattled the doorknob violently.
  2. to drive, send, bring, etc., especially rapidly, with rattling sounds: The wind rattled the metal can across the roadway.
  3. to utter or perform in a rapid or lively manner: to rattle off a list of complaints.
  4. to disconcert or confuse (a person): A sudden noise rattled the speaker.
  5. Hunting. to stir up (a cover).


  1. a rapid succession of short, sharp sounds, as from the collision of hard bodies.
  2. an instrument contrived to make a rattling sound, especially a baby’s toy filled with small pellets that rattle when shaken.
  3. the series of horny, interlocking elements at the end of the tail of a rattlesnake, with which it produces a rattling sound.
  4. a rattling sound in the throat, as the death rattle.

verb (used with object), rat·tled, rat·tling. Nautical.

  1. to furnish with ratlines (usually followed by down).


  1. to make or cause to make a rapid succession of short sharp sounds, as of loose pellets colliding when shaken in a container
  2. to shake or cause to shake with such a soundthe explosion rattled the windows
  3. to send, move, drive, etc, with such a soundthe car rattled along the country road
  4. (intr foll by on) to chatter idly; talk, esp at lengthhe rattled on about his work
  5. (tr ; foll by off, out etc) to recite perfunctorily or rapidly
  6. (tr) informal to disconcert; make frightened or anxious


  1. a rapid succession of short sharp sounds
  2. an object, esp a baby’s toy, filled with small pellets that rattle when shaken
  3. a series of loosely connected horny segments on the tail of a rattlesnake, vibrated to produce a rattling sound
  4. any of various European scrophulariaceous plants having a capsule in which the seeds rattle, such as Pedicularis palustris (red rattle) and Rhinanthus minor (yellow rattle)
  5. idle chatter
  6. an idle chatterer
  7. med another name for rale


  1. (tr often foll by down) to fit (a vessel or its rigging) with ratlines


  1. Sir Simon . born 1955, English conductor. Principal conductor (1980–91) and music director (1991–98) of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra from 2002

c.1300 (intransitive), “To make a quick sharp noise with frequent repetitions and collisions of bodies not very sonorous: when bodies are sonorous, it is called jingling” [Johnson]. Perhaps in Old English but not recorded; if not, from Middle Dutch ratelen, probably of imitative origin (cf. German rasseln “to rattle,” Greek kradao “I rattle”). Sense of “utter smartly and rapidly” is late 14c. Meaning “to go along loosely and noisily” is from 1550s. Transitive sense is late 14c.; figurative sense of “fluster” is first recorded 1869. Related: Rattled; rattling.


c.1500, “rapid succession of short, sharp sounds,” from rattle (v.). As a child’s toy, recorded from 1510s. As a sound made in the throat (especially of one near death) from 1752.

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