[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 tinkling

ringing, tinkly

Examples from the Web for tinkling

Contemporary Examples of tinkling

Historical Examples of tinkling

  • A bell had been tinkling nearer and nearer on the road ahead.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Hark, I hear the piping of the shepherd and the tinkling bell of the wether.

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

  • It rolls on with ease, it glides as it dances to the tinkling of its anklets.

    My Reminiscences

    Rabindranath Tagore

  • More shots—streaks of thin red flame, and a tinkling of glass.

    Prairie Flowers

    James B. Hendryx

  • Gold and sunlight, myrrh and incense, the tinkling of anklets.


    Edna Ferber

British Dictionary definitions for tinkling



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 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