• synonyms


[ting-kuh l]
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verb (used without object), tin·kled, tin·kling.
  1. to give forth or make a succession of short, light, ringing sounds, as a small bell.
  2. to run one's fingers lightly over a keyboard instrument or to play such an instrument simply or badly.
  3. Baby Talk. to urinate.
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verb (used with object), tin·kled, tin·kling.
  1. to cause to tinkle or jingle: The goat tinkled its bell every time it raised its head. Who's tinkling the piano?
  2. to make known, call attention to, attract, or summon by tinkling.
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  1. a tinkling sound or tune.
  2. an act or instance of tinkling.
  3. Informal. a telephone call: Give me a tinkle before you leave for Europe.
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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. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for tinkling

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • 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


  1. to ring or cause to ring with a series of high tinny sounds, like a small bell
  2. (tr) to announce or summon by such a ringing
  3. (intr) British informal to urinate
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  1. a high clear ringing sound
  2. the act of tinkling
  3. British informal a telephone call
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Derived Formstinkling, adjective, nountinkly, 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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper