Definition of rattle in English:


See synonyms for rattle

Translate rattle into Spanish


  • 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’
    • ‘there was a sound of bottles rattling as he stacked the crates’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I sat motionless, gripping my fork so hard that it rattled against my plate.’
    • ‘Myri was yelling, waving her arms around and slamming her hands on the table so hard that the cutlery rattled.’
    • ‘He roughly shook Cloud again, so hard that his teeth rattled again.’
    • ‘Robyn was about to protest when the door rattled again.’
    • ‘A half-hour or so later the key rattled in the lock.’
    • ‘Across the room, a cap rattled around inside an empty shot glass.’
    • ‘A tin can slammed against a wall suddenly then rattled in the wind.’
    • ‘Lizzy demanded offensively, her voice sounding like wind chimes rattling relentlessly in a strong winter wind.’
    • ‘What I heard as raindrops are the leaves of the giant oak above me, rattling in the wind.’
    • ‘So a few days ago my son was out playing and decided to give away the five coins that were rattling around in his pocket.’
    • ‘The window pane began to rattle as the rain began to pound from the heavens.’
    • ‘Some rapid catching up followed to the accompaniment of the roof still rattling in the wind and off we all set again.’
    • ‘But it's a touch cramped in there if you're any way tall, the seats need more lumbar support and the roof can rattle when it's stowed.’
    • ‘When the houseboat's roof started rattling, they knew it was time to get off.’
    • ‘Low hanging twigs swept across the roof, rattling above our heads like hailstones.’
    • ‘The wind howled, the roof rattled, the whole cabin creaked and moaned.’
    • ‘There are shingle beaches where grayling spawn, rattling rapids and wooded islands that spread wide the flow.’
    clatter, bang, clang, clank, clink, clunk
    jingle, jangle, clink, tinkle
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    1. 1.1no 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The vehicle rattled over a bridge, and Brian caught a glimpse of dark trees hunched protectively over black water.’
      • ‘I looked across my neighbourhood, women in saris in their front gardens, kids on bikes, trains rattling past in the distance.’
      • ‘I don't want to see empty cars rattling by the Strib building.’
      • ‘Attack helicopters rattling low over the desert were especially terrifying, criss-crossing over the city and firing rockets into the centre.’
      • ‘A car comes rattling down the street, thick smoke pouring out the back, every door a different colour of blistered paint.’
      • ‘As my bus slowly rattled and groaned its way out of La Paz for the long journey south, I shuddered at what I'd let myself in for.’
      • ‘A few aid agencies, charter airlines and the national carrier rattled around the dimly lit concourse.’
      • ‘‘The old line runs right past my back door and I would not like trains rattling past every hour,’ he said.’
      • ‘You see, those wide-open spaces streaking past when you're rattling about on the train are ramshackle urban Edens.’
      • ‘Sure enough, a large grey lorry was rattling down the cobble road.’
      • ‘I had to wait until Hernandez and I were in the van rattling back to the hotel.’
      • ‘When he heard the truck rattling down the driveway, he let the stallion out, and waited.’
      • ‘The cart rattled, and she had been jostled unmercifully.’
      • ‘There were no windows inside the carriage, so Primrose's leader had to sit in silence as the carriage rattled towards Graveyard.’
      • ‘Streetlamps cast a cold, pale glow on the pavement; an occasional trolley rattles by below.’
      • ‘And as the carriage rattled off into the city, I looked down at the gloves on my hand.’
      • ‘Grit braced himself as the carriage rattled along the old road, heading towards the town.’
      jolt, bump, bounce, shake, vibrate, jar
      View synonyms
  • 2 informal with object Cause (someone) to feel nervous, worried, or irritated.

    • ‘she turned quickly, rattled by his presence’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This is the language of seriously rattled people.’
    • ‘Walking around the city last night, several hours after the morning's atrocities, many people were visibly rattled by what had happened.’
    • ‘The opposition may make negative personal comments to rattle you.’
    • ‘The first is a significant emotional experience, which refers to an event or happening that literally rattles the person to change.’
    • ‘They're so good at rattling me, at making me feel like I'm the one at fault, like we're causing trouble.’
    • ‘People being loud on public transport really rattles me for some reason.’
    • ‘Perhaps those comments will help steady the nerves of many Americans apparently rattled by an e-mail that is circulating nationwide.’
    • ‘‘Just before half-time things were not going too bad and then the goal that they got rattled us before we went in,’ he said.’
    • ‘So the president decided to call a news conference, and he rattled some reporters by giving them just 45 minutes notice this time.’
    • ‘This sudden turn-around rattled the visitors.’
    • ‘Maybe he was rattled by Lorelai's sudden possible job offer?’
    • ‘But the ambush, and the enemy flares and gunfire that followed, rattled the men of Bravo Company more than any event.’
    • ‘Zimbabwe is rattling investor confidence in Africa, the only region of the world to show an overall decline in per capita savings and investments since 1970.’
    • ‘James Hickey is also capable of rattling opponents.’
    • ‘Ahern's response was to speed to the defence of a clearly rattled Bush.’
    • ‘Clearly rattled, Brash tried to straddle both sides of the argument at once.’
    • ‘Clearly rattled by the booze suspension, Homme berated the owners of the building.’
    unnerve, disconcert, disturb, fluster, shake, perturb, discompose, discomfit, discountenance, make nervous, put off, throw off balance, ruffle, agitate, put off one's stroke, upset, frighten, scare
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/ˈrad(ə)l/ /ˈræd(ə)l/


  • 1A rapid succession of short, sharp, hard sounds.

    ‘the rattle of teacups on the tray’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There is an occasional cough, the shuffle of a footstep, the jingle of some coins, and the rattle of newspapers.’
    • ‘Spasms of alto sax meet the outer edge of the record, accompanied by the jingle of a music box and the rattle of metal shards dropping to the floor.’
    • ‘Most of us neglect minor rattles because they don't directly affect the running of the car.’
    • ‘The air seemed to beat against my ear drums, vibrating with the piercing rattle of insects… cicada's, grasshoppers and huge black beetles.’
    • ‘First the stupid heater developed a rattle at about 4am and woke me up.’
    • ‘From the brittle rattle of applause that staggered around the room, it was obvious that not too many of the audience were from the North Island.’
    • ‘Then in the distance I heard the rattle of a harness.’
    • ‘As they walked the halls, a rattle of gunfire intruded from across the filtration ponds.’
    • ‘A distinct rattle of chains caught my attention, emitted from the shadows.’
    • ‘A rattle of a chain in the distance caught Tonya's attention.’
    • ‘Immediately there was an explosion, then the loud rattle of wheels on wood, and a cheer.’
    • ‘There was a rattle of wheels in the distance.’
    • ‘There was more of a rattle in it this morning, and less of a hum, if that makes any sense.’
    • ‘They have a variety of calls usually described as whistles, rattles, trills, squeaks or screams.’
    • ‘But when no further sounds or rattles came up through the hull, I realized that we had landed.’
    • ‘The sound of the sea hitting the ship made it difficult to sleep and the rattle of tin dishes sounded over the groans of passengers being sick.’
    • ‘The new cabs are 75 percent stiffer in construction to ward off squeaks and rattles.’
    clatter, clattering, clank, clanking, clink, clinking, clanging
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A gurgling sound in the throat of a dying person.
      ‘there was a choking rattle and his eyes turned upward’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘After their night's respite, my congested bronchial tubes once more begin their noisy rattle.’
      death rattle
      View synonyms
  • 2A thing used to make a rattling sound.

    ‘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.’
    • ‘Other instruments used included rattles, whistles, flutes, mouth harps, and stringed-instruments constructed with a bow and resonator.’
    • ‘The primary traditional instruments were Shaman's rattles and sticks beaten during hand games.’
    • ‘In the other he held a rawhide rattle with a beaded strap, which he wrapped around his wrist.’
    • ‘Many handmade instruments include whistles, drums, rattles, and stringed instruments.’
    • ‘The English under King Harold make a brave stand, but their pointed sticks and voodoo rattles are as nothing against the Normans' tanks, airplanes, and modern artillery.’
    • ‘Knowles initiated a process of discovery in which these extraordinary wall sculptures were revealed to double as bean rattles and paper saws with a spectrum of sonic properties.’
    • ‘They could shake a rattle or something, they're no trouble at all.’
    • ‘They shook rattles fashioned of skulls on long bones as they chanted the cadences of the spell.’
    • ‘The singing begins and your attention is on the beat of the drum, the sound of the rattle, and the men's voices captured in song.’
    • ‘One man demonstrates the use of the rattle by loudly singing a Seneca song in the theater after the show, while hammering the rattle against his palm.’
    • ‘In the past, the women performed the rhythms by sitting on tiny stools, singing and beating little rattles or bamboos cut lengthwise.’
    • ‘Pierced and strung together by youths, shells also served as ankle rattles for use in masquerades.’
    • ‘As I left the ground I placed the rattle under my coat.’
    • ‘Then you can experiment with journeying using other sounds, such as rattles, etc.’
    • ‘Another service, more tapers and hymns, more speeches and, in front of the coffin, white-robbed choristers chant and rhythmically shake silver rattles.’
    • ‘More commonly, cowhorn rattles with wooden handles and water drums were used.’
    1. 2.1A baby's toy consisting of a container filled with small pellets, which makes a noise when shaken.
      ‘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.’
      • ‘America reminds me in some ways of a kid with a baby rattle.’
      • ‘Ethan the baby gets a noisy rattle and a soft activity book.’
      • ‘Golota kept his lips pursed together like a baby refusing its rattle, the mouthpiece stayed out and the fight was over.’
      • ‘Women screamed and jumped on chairs, men spilled their pints and babies dropped their rattles with each twist and turn of a nail-biting game.’
      • ‘I had to meet Derek at three and Mama, Jenny and I were still at Harrods looking at cribs and baby rattles.’
      • ‘Long live hand-blown crystal champagne flutes and sterling silver baby rattles!’
      • ‘The noise started Jordan and made her take a step backward onto a rattle of the baby's which made her fall backwards onto the foot of the bed.’
      • ‘I bought giant stuffed frogs that squeak, plush lambies to cuddle, felt baby rattles to entertain.’
      • ‘Keep soft toys, rattles, or pacifiers on hand in case your baby gets fussy.’
      • ‘He made a lot of noise by banging his rattle against his little table, and generally had a good time pretending to be all grown up.’
      • ‘Shake their imagination like a baby's rattle.’
      • ‘The most entertainment he could expect was his mother's occasional rattle waving.’
      • ‘Use things that he can grab with his fists such as soft washable toys or rattles with no sharp edges.’
      • ‘Take charge of baths, or walk baby around in a soft carrier, or be the one to introduce squeaky toys and rattles.’
      • ‘Distractions such as rattles, music, or even running a vacuum, washing machine, or blow-dryer may be amusing or comforting to your baby.’
      • ‘My baby woke us up every morning with the precious jingle from his silver rattle and I will always cherish that sound.’
      • ‘Allow your baby time to recognize that the rattle is producing the sound.’
    2. 2.2The set of horny rings at the end of a rattlesnake's tail, shaken with a dry buzzing sound as a warning.
      ‘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.’



/ˈrad(ə)l/ /ˈræd(ə)l/


    rattle sabers
    • Threaten to take aggressive action.

      ‘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?’
      • ‘The current fear-mongering over Social Security springs from the same totalitarian impulse as motivated those who rattled sabers in the past.’
      • ‘His best divisions were bogged down in Yemen, so he was in a weak position, and he rattled sabers hard as a bluff.’
      • ‘We do know that they like to bluster and rattle sabres and all sorts of things.’
      • ‘She is in no position to rattle sabers at this point.’
      • ‘It talks tough, talks big, and rattles sabres but never puts its money where its mouth is.’
      • ‘The Russians had rattled sabers throughout 1983, trying to stop NATO's theater missile deployment.’
      • ‘That could be changing, as China continues to rattle sabers and pose increasing strategic instability.’
    rattle someone's cage
    • Anger or irritate someone.

      • ‘put the pressure on him—rattle his cage’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They lost the mid-term elections because the Greens did not rattle their cage.’
      • ‘If you don't want my opinion, don't rattle my cage.’
      • ‘If I'm missing the point - please rattle my cage.’
      • ‘They will have to work harder to rattle his cage.’
      • ‘That boy just seems to love rattling your cage.’
      • ‘What's the matter, atheist, is my religion rattling your cage?’
      • ‘It's almost like you're getting some sort of cheap thrill by rattling my cage.’

Phrasal Verbs

    rattle around
    • also rattle around somethingBe in or occupy an unnecessarily large room or building.

      ‘the house was too big—we just rattled around in it’
      • ‘there were about ten guests rattling around the huge hotel’
    rattle off
    • rattle something off, rattle off somethingSay, perform, or produce something quickly and effortlessly.

      ‘he rattled off some instructions’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And there you were thinking that I just plonked myself down in front of my computer for a couple of hours to rattle this stuff off.’
      • ‘These commands were rattled off at a frantic speed, then a few seconds silence ensued, until Telli's weapons were lying on the ground a few feet away from him.’
      • ‘Two by two the names were rattled off until only a handful were left.’
      • ‘I wanted details and I rattled questions off as they came to mind.’
      • ‘She nodded at the door as she rattled this list off to her brother, and grinning he slipped out.’
      • ‘The phone rang again this time her mother answered, she laughed and rattled something off in Spanish.’
      • ‘He rattled something off in his native language that had everyone but Miliar confused.’
    rattle on
    • Talk rapidly and at length, especially in an inane way.

      ‘she found herself rattling on about unhappiness and happiness’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Here I am rattling on about how I want to go and ‘relieve’ my tension with some buff guy, and you're having a crisis.’
      • ‘Ask him about the weather or the federal budget or the price of kumquats, and 15 minutes later he'll still be rattling on and on and on.’
      • ‘Devon couldn't resist rattling on about how good Jessica had been.’
      • ‘Worse still, I trapped myself in introducing them by rattling on without actually thinking of what to say.’
      • ‘Kay was rattling on about some television show but Miki wasn't paying attention.’
      • ‘She sighed and looked up at her teacher, now rattling on about an assignment on local history.’
      • ‘Bland interrupts his thoughts momentarily, but while she rattles on boringly, his mind again drifts back to memories of Caddy.’


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