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[ting-kuh l] /ˈtɪŋ kəl/
verb (used without object), tinkled, tinkling.
to give forth or make a succession of short, light, ringing sounds, as a small bell.
to run one's fingers lightly over a keyboard instrument or to play such an instrument simply or badly.
Baby Talk. to urinate.
verb (used with object), tinkled, tinkling.
to cause to tinkle or jingle:
The goat tinkled its bell every time it raised its head. Who's tinkling the piano?
to make known, call attention to, attract, or summon by tinkling.
a tinkling sound or tune.
an act or instance of tinkling.
Informal. a telephone call:
Give me a tinkle before you leave for Europe.
Origin of tinkle
1350-1400; Middle English tynclen, frequentative of tinken to clink; imitative
Related forms
outtinkle, verb (used with object), outtinkled, outtinkling. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for tinkle
Historical Examples
  • Gracie asked, running off the final notes in a tinkle of melody.

    Ester Ried Yet Speaking Isabella Alden
  • Joseph heard the tinkle of a falling blade, and assumed it to be Kenneth's.

    The Tavern Knight Rafael Sabatini
  • A tinkle of cutlery and a slight jingle of glasses were heard.

    End of the Tether Joseph Conrad
  • Not until the fourth tinkle had been heard was there any other sound within the house.

    Shoulder-Straps Henry Morford
  • There was a tinkle at my bell, and I left her to open the door.

    The Moon and Sixpence W. Somerset Maugham
  • From the gallery overhead came the tinkle of a rota, a kind of guitar.

  • Presently I heard the tinkle of a bell from the box which he had unlocked.

    With The Eyes Shut Edward Bellamy
  • I'm going straight for the point where the tinkle of the bell came from.

    The Hunters of the Ozark Edward S. Ellis
  • I rang the bell and heard its tinkle far away within the dwelling.


    Henry Seton Merriman
  • Miss Junk appeared in answer to the tinkle of the bell and removed the food.

    The Opal Serpent Fergus Hume
British Dictionary definitions for tinkle


to ring or cause to ring with a series of high tinny sounds, like a small bell
(transitive) to announce or summon by such a ringing
(intransitive) (Brit, informal) to urinate
a high clear ringing sound
the act of tinkling
(Brit, informal) a telephone call
Derived Forms
tinkling, adjective, noun
tinkly, adjective
Word Origin
C14: of imitative origin
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
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Word Origin and History for tinkle

"to make a gentle ringing sound," late 14c., possibly a frequentative form of tinken "to ring, jingle," perhaps of imitative origin. Meaning "to urinate" is recorded from 1960, from childish talk. Related: Tinkled; tinkling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for tinkle



A telephone call •Chiefly in the expression give someone a tinkle (1938+)


To urinate; pee •A nursery use (1950+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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