- a person who heedlessly or maliciously reveals private or confidential matters; tattler; talebearer.
- a thing serving to reveal or disclose something.
- any of various indicating or registering devices, as a time clock.
- Music. a gauge on an organ for indicating the air pressure.
- an indicator showing the position of a ship's rudder.
- a row of strips hung over a track to warn train crew members on freight trains that a low bridge, tunnel, or the like is approaching.
- Yachting. (on a sailboat) a feather, string, or similar device, often attached to the port and starboard shrouds and to the backstay, to indicate the relative direction of the wind.
- Squash. a narrow piece of metal across the front wall of a court, parallel to and extending 17 inches (43.2 cm) above the base: a ball striking this is an out.
- that reveals or betrays what is not intended to be known: a telltale blush.
- giving notice or warning of something, as a mechanical device.
Origin of telltale
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for tell-tale
His sanity is slowly unraveling, like the claustrophobic narrator of The Tell-Tale Heart.‘Interstellar’ Is Wildly Ambitious, Very Flawed, and Absolutely Worth Seeing
November 7, 2014
Kaszeta insisted that the chemical compound hexamine in the sarin residue was a tell-tale sign of Syrian government involvement.The Kardashian Look-Alike Trolling for Assad
Noah Shachtman, Michael Kennedy
October 17, 2014
“It has all the tell-tale signs of what we saw in Crimea,” Power told ABC News Sunday.Obama Administration Preps New Sanctions Against Russia
April 13, 2014
Anyone who has been through this annual exercise at the White House would recognize the tell-tale signs.Yuval Levin on the State of the Union Speech
February 13, 2013
The response to my piece on Open Zion by Alex Kane was one such example—albeit without such a tell-tale headline.BDS Loses by Losing
July 10, 2012
Then he added, impatiently: "Come, waste no words; strip off that tell-tale coat."A Son of Hagar</p>
Sir Hall Caine
Eileen sighed and turned her head away to hide a tell-tale tear.The Spoilers of the Valley
She paused, and then there slipped out, in lower tone, a tell-tale "Much."Half a Hero
If she once gets the reputation of 'tell-tale' she's done for.For the Sake of the School</p>
That would account for the absence of any tell-tale marks on the bed-clothes.The Shrieking Pit
Arthur J. Rees
- a person who tells tales about others
- an outward indication of something concealed
- (as modifier)a telltale paw mark
- any of various indicators or recording devices used to monitor a process, machine, etc
- another word for dogvane
- one of a pair of light vanes mounted on the main shrouds of a sailing boat to indicate the apparent direction of the wind
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for tell-tale
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper