Definition of tinkle in English:



  • 1Make or cause to make a light, clear ringing sound.

    [no object] ‘cool water tinkled in the stone fountains’
    [with object] ‘the maid tinkled a bell’
    • ‘She glanced up as the bell tinkled against the glass of the front door.’
    • ‘She tinkled the bell sitting on her desk, persistently, until the sound of rapid footsteps could be heard and a few harsh knocks on the door resulted in the maid's arrival.’
    • ‘The cool air tinkled my face as I stepped out of Trent's car.’
    • ‘The men watched as she strode toward the church, swiped a bicycle leaning upon the building's side, and disappeared down Main Street, tinkling the bell for all to hear.’
    • ‘Across the street, he heard sweet tinkling laughter.’
    • ‘In the complete silence of the room, tiny tinkling sounds could be heard at the window.’
    • ‘Bill patted his fat pouch that tinkled with the sound of money.’
    • ‘Beggars sat here and there, calling out or tinkling a little bell to catch the compassion of the innocent.’
    • ‘My visit had coincided with the outrigger canoe-racing world championships and my ears were filled with the sound of manic, tinkling ukuleles.’
    • ‘He took a great satisfaction in slamming the door so that the house shook, the vase on the landing windowsill rattled and the glass light shade tinkled gently.’
    • ‘Her gold eyes glinted even in the dark, the black collar around her neck swinging an old nametag and a small tinkling bell.’
    • ‘I heard laughter like tiny tinkling bells beside me and I looked up.’
    • ‘Up on the East Gate, under tinkling bells and rotund lanterns, men had come to sip tea, puff cigarettes and play draughts.’
    • ‘Fragments of glass tinkled to the stone floor in a deadly rain.’
    • ‘A little brass bell tinkled a welcome, and the door, closing, shut out the clamour of the street.’
    • ‘It's light and tinkling, like a brook to match her eyes.’
    • ‘I go for a set of brass bells that tinkle, bringing home the sound of cows returning home at sundown.’
    • ‘It was the sound of glass, tinkling in such a mass it sounded like waves crashing on a beach.’
    • ‘Exclamations of joy coalesced into one voice, whose laughter tinkled oppressively through the clear, mountain air.’
    • ‘The hall fell suddenly and completely silent, except for the sound of the glass tinkling slightly and the wine dripping down the wall.’
    splash, purl, babble, burble
    ring, jingle, jangle, chime, peal, ding, ping, clink, chink
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  • 2British informal [no object] Urinate.

    ‘I needed to tinkle’
    • ‘And she didn't want the mother to hear her tinkle.’


  • 1A light, clear ringing sound.

    ‘the distant tinkle of a cow bell’
    • ‘In its wake, past the wall, behind the cherry trees, I could hear the soft tinkle of wind chimes.’
    • ‘It certainly helps to be able to sit in the sun by a wide open window with only the sound of the birds and the occasional tinkle of a cat's bell to be heard.’
    • ‘By the time the tinkle of the piano heralds the arrival of a tightly performed ‘Romeo And Juliet’, it is easy to discern why this man is regarded as a virtuoso with the lead guitar.’
    • ‘A shattering tinkle echoes as the ice pieces cover the floor.’
    • ‘It clanged on the concrete and the bulb shattered with a tinkle.’
    • ‘The silence is broken only by the tinkle of a distant cowbell.’
    • ‘Booms, clicks, tinkles and thumps make up most percussion music.’
    • ‘His eyes scanned the yard, but the only sound to be heard now was the gentle tinkle of the windchimes as the night-time breeze played with a few vagrant strands of his hair.’
    • ‘It clattered to the floor with a hold tinkle and echoed into the silence.’
    • ‘Jane and Anne both made a move for the door, but Therese noticed this, and laughed, which sounded like the tinkle of tiny bells.’
    • ‘The soft tinkles and jingles are heard with every step.’
    • ‘Somewhere in the distance, probably, sounds the tinkle of sheep bells and the lowing of cows.’
    • ‘A tinkle of glasses sounded as he began pouring drinks.’
    • ‘The first distant wolf howl does not drown the tinkle of the sleigh-bells or the laughter of the wedding guests.’
    • ‘Can you imagine walking through a graveyard in the middle of the night and hearing the distant tinkle of a little bell?’
    • ‘The light tinkle of Inger's laughter seemed to fill the small room.’
    • ‘You can almost feel the charge of linking synaptic bursts as the trio generates a veritable Japanese garden of tinkles, clicks, rolls, and splashes.’
    • ‘There were no stars-only the tinkle of wind chimes, the rustle of windblown leaves.’
    • ‘This time, it wasn't a quiet tinkle or a murmur - someone was roaring out Christmas carols.’
    • ‘The doors fell out with a loud bang, and the tinkle of breaking glass.’
    ring, chime, peal, ding, ping, clink, chink, jingle, jangle
    splash, purl, babble, burble
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    1. 1.1British informal A telephone call.
      ‘I'll give them a tinkle’
      • ‘If there's anything in the company manual that doesn't leap out at you, feel free to give me a tinkle.’
      • ‘All it needs is a tinkle to the Central Reservation Office of AP Tourism and ask for customised tour and a tour hostess to help you finalise your tour according to the interest and time available.’
      telephone call, phone call, call
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  • 2British informal An act of urinating.

    ‘you have to pay to go in for a tinkle’
    • ‘The only reason the booth is ever empty is when the employees have to go for a tinkle, and they're supposed to lock the turnstile until they get back.’
    • ‘I haven't eaten for fourteen hours and it hurts - I'm irritable and hungry: there's a strange taste in my mouth, and my frequent tinkles are as clear as Welsh mountain streams.’


Late Middle English (also in the sense ‘tingle’): frequentative of obsolete tink ‘to chink or clink’, of imitative origin.