[ting-kuh l]

verb (used without object), tin·kled, tin·kling.

verb (used with object), tin·kled, tin·kling.

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.


Origin of tinkle

1350–1400; Middle English tynclen, frequentative of tinken to clink; imitative
Related formsout·tin·kle, verb (used with object), out·tin·kled, out·tin·kling.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for tinkle

sound, jangle, ding, tingle, chime, clink, chink, ting, plink

Examples from the Web for tinkle

Historical Examples of tinkle

  • Gracie asked, running off the final notes in a tinkle of melody.

  • 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.


    Henry Morford

  • There was a tinkle at my bell, and I left her to open the door.

    The Moon and Sixpence

    W. Somerset Maugham

British Dictionary definitions for tinkle



to ring or cause to ring with a series of high tinny sounds, like a small bell
(tr) to announce or summon by such a ringing
(intr) British informal to urinate


a high clear ringing sound
the act of tinkling
British informal a telephone call
Derived Formstinkling, adjective, nountinkly, adjective

Word Origin for tinkle

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

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