From Biology-Online Dictionary | Biology-Online Dictionary


1. A rapid succession of sharp, clattering sounds; as, the rattle of a drum.

2. Noisy, rapid talk. All this ado about the golden age is but an empty rattle and frivolous conceit. (Hakewill)

3. An instrument with which a ratting sound is made; especially, a child's toy that rattle when shaken. The rattles of isis and the cymbals of Brasilea nearly enough resemble each other. (Sir W. Raleigh) Pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw. (pope)

4. 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. (Macaulay)

5. A scolding; a sharp rebuke.

6. (Science: zoology) Any organ of an animal having a structure adapted to produce a ratting sound.

The rattle of the rattlesnake is composed of the hardened terminal scales, loosened in succession, but not cast off, and so modified in form as to make a series of loose, hollow joints.

7. 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 rale. To spring a rattle, to cause it to sound.

(Science: botany) yellow rattle, a yellow-flowered herb (Rhinanthus crista-galli), the ripe seeds of which rattle in the inflated calyx.