• WordNet 3.6
    • v rattle shake and cause to make a rattling noise
    • v rattle make short successive sounds
    • n rattle loosely connected horny sections at the end of a rattlesnake's tail
    • n rattle a baby's toy that makes percussive noises when shaken
    • n rattle a rapid series of short loud sounds (as might be heard with a stethoscope in some types of respiratory disorders) "the death rattle"
    • ***

Additional illustrations & photos:

Dance Rattle Dance Rattle
A small watchman's rattle A small watchman's rattle
The rattles of the rattlesnake The rattles of the rattlesnake

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Rattle A noisy, senseless talker; a jabberer. "It may seem strange that a man who wrote with so much perspicuity, vivacity, and grace, should have been, whenever he took a part in conversation, an empty, noisy, blundering rattle ."
    • Rattle A rapid succession of sharp, clattering sounds; as, the rattle of a drum.
    • Rattle A scolding; a sharp rebuke.
    • Rattle An instrument with which a rattling sound is made; especially, a child's toy that rattles when shaken. "The rattles of Isis and the cymbals of Brasilea nearly enough resemble each other.""Pleased with a rattle , tickled with a straw."
    • Rattle (Zoöl) Any organ of an animal having a structure adapted to produce a rattling sound.
    • Rattle Hence, to disconcert; to confuse; as, to rattle one's judgment; to rattle a player in a game.
    • Rattle Noisy, rapid talk. "All this ado about the golden age is but an empty rattle and frivolous conceit."
    • Rattle The noise in the throat produced by the air in passing through mucus which the lungs are unable to expel; -- chiefly observable at the approach of death, when it is called the death rattle. See Râle.
    • Rattle To assail, annoy, or stun with a rattling noise. "Sound but another [drum], and another shall
      As loud as thine rattle the welkin's ear."
    • Rattle To cause to make a rattling or clattering sound; as, to rattle a chain.
    • Rattle To drive or ride briskly, so as to make a clattering; as, we rattled along for a couple of miles.
    • Rattle To make a clatter with the voice; to talk rapidly and idly; to clatter; -- with on or away; as, she rattled on for an hour.
    • Rattle To make a quick succession of sharp, inharmonious noises, as by the collision of hard and not very sonorous bodies shaken together; to clatter. "And the rude hail in rattling tempest forms.""'T was but the wind,
      Or the car rattling o'er the stony street."
    • Rattle To scold; to rail at.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • rattle To give out a rapid succession of short, sharp, jarring or clattering sounds; clatter, as by continuous concussions.
    • rattle To move or be carried along with a continuous rapid clatter; go or proceed or bear one's self noisily: often used with reference to speed rather than to the accompanying noise.
    • rattle To speak with noisy and rapid utterance; talk rapidly or in a chattering manner: as, to rattle on about trifles.
    • rattle To cause to make a rattling sound or a rapid succession of hard, sharp, or jarring sounds.
    • rattle To utter in sharp, rapid tones; deliver in a smart, rapid manner: as, to rattle off a string of names.
    • rattle To act upon or affect by rattling sounds; startle or stir up by any noisy means.
    • rattle To scold, chide, or rail at noisily; berate clamorously.
    • rattle To shake up, unsettle, or disturb by censure, annoyance, or irritation; bring into an agitated or confused condition.
    • n rattle A rapid succession of short, sharp, clattering sounds, as of intermitting collision or concussion.
    • n rattle A rattling clamor of words; sharp, rapid talk of any kind; hence, sharp scolding or railing.
    • n rattle An instrument or toy contrived to make a rattling sound. The watchman's rattle, formerly used for giving an alarm, and the child's toy resembling it, consist of a vibrating tongue slipping over the teeth of a rotating ratchet-wheel, and producing much noise when rapidly twirled by the handle. Other toy rattles for Children, and those used by some primitive races for various purposes, commonly consist of a box or casing, or even a hollow gourd or shell, with or without a handle, containing loose pebbles or other hard objects.
    • n rattle One who talks rapidly and without moderation or consideration; a noisy, impertinent talker; a jabberer.
    • n rattle The crepitaculum of the true rattlesnake, consisting of a series of horny epidermic cells of an undulated pyramidal shape, articulated one within the other at the extremity of the tail. See rattlesnake.
    • n rattle An annual herb, Rhinanthus Crista-galli, of meadows and pastures in Europe and northern Asia. It attaches itself by its fibrous roots to the roots of living grasses, etc., thus doing much damage. Its calyx in fruit is orbicular, inflated but flattened, containing a capsule of similar form with a few large flat, generally winged seeds. This is the common or yellow rattle, also called locally penny-grass, penny-rattle, rattlebays, rattlebox, and ratttepenny.
    • n rattle One of the Old World louseworts, Pedicularis palustris, the red rattle.
    • n rattle The death-rattle.
    • rattle Nautical, to furnish with ratlines.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • v.i Rattle rat′l to clatter: to move along rapidly, with a clattering noise: to speak eagerly and noisily
    • v.t Rattle to cause to make a clatter: to stun with noise: to speak rapidly: to scold loudly
    • n Rattle a sharp noise rapidly repeated, as the death-rattle: a clatter: loud empty talk: loud scolding: a toy or instrument for rattling: a brisk jabberer: an annual meadow herb: a lousewort
    • adj Rattle making a rattle: smart, lively:
    • adj Rattle (coll.) strikingly great
    • ***


  • John F. Boyes
    John F. Boyes
    “Violence in the voice is often only the death rattle of reason in the throat.”
  • Alexander Pope
    “Behold the child, by nature's kindly law, pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw.”
  • Samuel Johnson
    “Our tastes greatly alter. The lad does not care for the child's rattle, and the old man does not care for the young man's whore.”
  • Fulghum Robert
    Fulghum Robert
    “To be human is to keep rattling the bars of the cage of existence hollering, What's it for?”


Sabre-rattling - When people, states, etc, threaten to use force as a way of getting what they want, especially when they are unlikely to use force, they are sabre-rattling.


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Akin to D. ratelen, G. rasseln, AS. hrætele, a rattle, in hrætel,wyrt rattlewort; cf. Gr. kradai`nein to swing, wave. Cf. Rail a bird


In literature:

He clapped his hands on his pockets, and there was heard the rattling of nuts.
"Jewish Children" by Sholem Naumovich Rabinovich
The noise ceased presently to be followed by the rattle of a typewriter, or so it seemed.
"The Slave of Silence" by Fred M. White
The old buggy rattled along through alternate sunshine and shade.
"'Lizbeth of the Dale" by Marian Keith
Ay, even if they have hardly one penny to rattle against another.
"Our Home in the Silver West" by Gordon Stables
There is a rattle of musketry.
"My Days and Nights on the Battle-Field" by Charles Carleton Coffin
Want to pawn the rattle, eh?
"Harding's luck" by E. [Edith] Nesbit
Miss Amy Vost was not in evidence when the two rickshaws rattled up to the platform of the red brick station.
"Peter the Brazen" by George F. Worts
Tresco rattled the dice, and threw a pair of fours.
"The Tale of Timber Town" by Alfred Grace
I heard a number of shots, ending with the rattle of an automatic.
"Out of the Depths" by Robert Ames Bennet
A burring rattle broke the momentary hush.
"The Great Dome on Mercury" by Arthur Leo Zagat

In poetry:

At last the evil days were come
That saw the red cross fall;
She hears the rebels’ rattling drum,—­
Farewell to Frankland Hall!
"Agnes" by Oliver Wendell Holmes
'Life is gone, then love too is gone,
It was a reed that I leant upon:
Never doubt I will leave you alone
And not wake you rattling bone with bone.
"The Poor Ghost" by Christina Georgina Rossetti
But O the little humming song
That sang among the sheaves!
'Twas grander than the airy march
That rattled thro' the leaves,
And prouder, louder, than the deep,
Bold clanging of the waves:
"A Harvest Song" by Isabella Valancy Crawford
He said that he had a mate to meet,
And `I'll see you again,' said he,
Then he hurried away through the crowded street
And the rattle of buses and scrape of feet
Seemed suddenly loud to me.
"Since Then" by Henry Lawson
No shadow fell on the smiling land,
No cloud arose in the sky;
I could hear the river's quiet tune
When the trains had rattled by;
But my heart sank low with a heavy sense
Of trouble,—I knew not why.
"The Red Flower" by Henry Van Dyke
I remember drifting with them till I found myself again
In the rush and roar and rattle of the engine and the train;
And when from my surroundings something spoke of child and wife,
It seemed the train was rumbling through a tunnel in my life.
"George Mullen's Confession" by James Whitcomb Riley

In news:

Iran ' saber-rattling ' over strait.
The saber rattling has already taken place.
Bush's Transformation in Saber-Rattling Times.
The thunder-rumbling and sword-rattling concerning the imminent demise of newspapers has shaken my confidence in what used to be called the American Way of Life, before this way fell by the wayside.
BAGHDAD – A 9-year-old schoolboy was among at least 12 people that insurgents killed across Iraq on Wednesday, rattling nerves ahead of a holiday weekend.
With the shake of a rattle and blast of cologne-scented breath, TallTrees honored the south: The way of the snake, a journey of personal healing where the shaman sheds her skin and transforms her wounds.
The Mars Curiosity rover will scoop up Martian sand, then shake 'at a nice tooth-rattling vibration level' for eight hours to purge the rover's testing system of Earth contaminants.
Money just keeps your wallet from rattling around in your pockets.
Come winter, the nonstop struggle between man and Mother Nature unfolds in a teeth-rattling ride aboard city snowplows .
A loud noise rattled houses across Rhode Island.
A 4.0 magnitude earthquake in Maine rattled New England last night.
Attacks on Shrines Rattle Libya.
An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.4 has rattled northern Sumatra in Indonesia.
JAKARTA, Indonesia – JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.4 has rattled northern Sumatra in Indonesia.
Bassgasm 6 ready to rattle First Avenue.

In science:

As the density of the fluid increases, the particles become caged by their neighbors and so they can only rattle around their local lattice site.
Landscapes, dynamic heterogeneity and kinetic facilitation in a simple off-lattice model
As the viscosity of a super-cooled liquid increases, the dynamics become intermittent [21, 22, 23]: there are long quiet periods where particles are rattling around their average positions, interrupted by rapid rearrangements toward new configurations.
Normal modes analysis of the microscopic dynamics in hard discs
In this situation, the glass can be considered “solid” in the sense that its molecules rattle within a “cage” formed by their neighbors and do not leave it, at least within experimental time scales.
Aging in a simple model of a structural glass
Common algorithms that incorporate these constraints into the Molecular Dynamics scheme are SHAKE [ 92], RATTLE [ 93], and LINCS [ 94].
Biological and synthetic membranes: What can be learned from a coarse-grained description?
Rattle: A velocity version of the shake algorithm for molecular dynamics calculations. J.
Biological and synthetic membranes: What can be learned from a coarse-grained description?