Definition of tinkle in US 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’
    • ‘Exclamations of joy coalesced into one voice, whose laughter tinkled oppressively through the clear, mountain air.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's light and tinkling, like a brook to match her eyes.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Fragments of glass tinkled to the stone floor in a deadly rain.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I heard laughter like tiny tinkling bells beside me and I looked up.’
    • ‘In the complete silence of the room, tiny tinkling sounds could be heard at the window.’
    • ‘Across the street, he heard sweet tinkling laughter.’
    • ‘Beggars sat here and there, calling out or tinkling a little bell to catch the compassion of the innocent.’
    • ‘Bill patted his fat pouch that tinkled with the sound of money.’
    • ‘A little brass bell tinkled a welcome, and the door, closing, shut out the clamour of the street.’
    • ‘The hall fell suddenly and completely silent, except for the sound of the glass tinkling slightly and the wine dripping down the wall.’
    • ‘Her gold eyes glinted even in the dark, the black collar around her neck swinging an old nametag and a small tinkling bell.’
    • ‘She glanced up as the bell tinkled against the glass of the front door.’
    • ‘Up on the East Gate, under tinkling bells and rotund lanterns, men had come to sip tea, puff cigarettes and play draughts.’
    • ‘My visit had coincided with the outrigger canoe-racing world championships and my ears were filled with the sound of manic, tinkling ukuleles.’
    • ‘The cool air tinkled my face as I stepped out of Trent's car.’
    ring, jingle, jangle, chime, peal, ding, ping, clink, chink
    splash, purl, babble, burble
    View synonyms
  • 2British informal no object Urinate.

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


  • 1A light, clear ringing sound.

    ‘the distant tinkle of a cowbell’
    • ‘The doors fell out with a loud bang, and the tinkle of breaking glass.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Booms, clicks, tinkles and thumps make up most percussion music.’
    • ‘Can you imagine walking through a graveyard in the middle of the night and hearing the distant tinkle of a little bell?’
    • ‘The first distant wolf howl does not drown the tinkle of the sleigh-bells or the laughter of the wedding guests.’
    • ‘The light tinkle of Inger's laughter seemed to fill the small room.’
    • ‘It clattered to the floor with a hold tinkle and echoed into the silence.’
    • ‘The silence is broken only by the tinkle of a distant cowbell.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Jane and Anne both made a move for the door, but Therese noticed this, and laughed, which sounded like the tinkle of tiny bells.’
    • ‘This time, it wasn't a quiet tinkle or a murmur - someone was roaring out Christmas carols.’
    • ‘You can almost feel the charge of linking synaptic bursts as the trio generates a veritable Japanese garden of tinkles, clicks, rolls, and splashes.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Somewhere in the distance, probably, sounds the tinkle of sheep bells and the lowing of cows.’
    • ‘There were no stars-only the tinkle of wind chimes, the rustle of windblown leaves.’
    • ‘A shattering tinkle echoes as the ice pieces cover the floor.’
    • ‘A tinkle of glasses sounded as he began pouring drinks.’
    • ‘The soft tinkles and jingles are heard with every step.’
    • ‘It clanged on the concrete and the bulb shattered with a tinkle.’
    • ‘In its wake, past the wall, behind the cherry trees, I could hear the soft tinkle of wind chimes.’
    ring, chime, peal, ding, ping, clink, chink, jingle, jangle
    splash, purl, babble, burble
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1British informal A telephone call.
      ‘I'll give them 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.’
      • ‘If there's anything in the company manual that doesn't leap out at you, feel free to give me a tinkle.’
      telephone call, phone call, call
      View synonyms
  • 2British informal An act of urinating.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’


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