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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for tinkling
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • After I had been seated a short time, I heard the tinkling of ornaments and smelt a powerful perfume.

    Hindoo Tales Translated by P. W. Jacob
  • The icy, tinkling giggle of the mother breaks in upon the thought.

    The Dop Doctor Clotilde Inez Mary Graves
  • Yet with what a dreamy horror you wake on mornings of snow to that tinkling alarum!

    Dream Life Donald G. Mitchell
  • This made a tinkling noise, and attracted the workman to the front.

    Fil and Filippa John Stuart Thomson
  • When Gresnoi brought the cloak, with its tinkling bells, Morozof pushed him aside.

    The Story of Moscow Wirt Gerrare
  • Suddenly he noticed that the tinkling music of the fountain had ceased.

  • Theron's ears dwelt with eager delight upon the chasing medley of swift, tinkling sounds, but it left his thoughts free.

  • The lovely Bride of tinkling echoed the incredible declaration.

  • When he returned for it he heard, to his relief and surprise, the tinkling of a Mozart Sonata.

    A Room With A View E. M. Forster
British Dictionary definitions for tinkling


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 tinkling



"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 tinkling



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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