1 [rat-l]
verb (used without object), rattled, rattling.
to give out or cause a rapid succession of short, sharp sounds, as in consequence of agitation and repeated concussions: The windows rattled in their frames.
to move or go, especially rapidly, with such sounds: The car rattled along the highway.
to talk rapidly; chatter: He rattled on for an hour about his ailments.
verb (used with object), rattled, rattling.
to cause to rattle: He rattled the doorknob violently.
to drive, send, bring, etc., especially rapidly, with rattling sounds: The wind rattled the metal can across the roadway.
to utter or perform in a rapid or lively manner: to rattle off a list of complaints.
to disconcert or confuse (a person): A sudden noise rattled the speaker.
Hunting. to stir up (a cover).
a rapid succession of short, sharp sounds, as from the collision of hard bodies.
an instrument contrived to make a rattling sound, especially a baby's toy filled with small pellets that rattle when shaken.
the series of horny, interlocking elements at the end of the tail of a rattlesnake, with which it produces a rattling sound.
a rattling sound in the throat, as the death rattle.

1250–1300; Middle English ratelen (v.), ratele (noun) (cognate with Dutch ratelen, German rasseln); imitative

1. clatter, knock. 7. discompose. 9. clatter.
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2 [rat-l]
verb (used with object), rattled, rattling. Nautical.
to furnish with ratlines (usually followed by down ).

1720–30; back formation from ratling ratline (taken as verbal noun)

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
rattle1 (ˈrætəl)
vb (foll by on)
1.  to make or cause to make a rapid succession of short sharp sounds, as of loose pellets colliding when shaken in a container
2.  to shake or cause to shake with such a sound: the explosion rattled the windows
3.  to send, move, drive, etc, with such a sound: the car rattled along the country road
4.  to chatter idly; talk, esp at length: he rattled on about his work
5.  (tr; foll by off, out etc) to recite perfunctorily or rapidly
6.  informal (tr) to disconcert; make frightened or anxious
7.  a rapid succession of short sharp sounds
8.  an object, esp a baby's toy, filled with small pellets that rattle when shaken
9.  a series of loosely connected horny segments on the tail of a rattlesnake, vibrated to produce a rattling sound
10.  any of various European scrophulariaceous plants having a capsule in which the seeds rattle, such as Pedicularis palustris (red rattle) and Rhinanthus minor (yellow rattle)
11.  idle chatter
12.  an idle chatterer
13.  med another name for rale
[C14: from Middle Dutch ratelen; related to Middle High German razzen, of imitative origin]

rattle2 (ˈrætəl)
vb (down)
to fit (a vessel or its rigging) with ratlines
[C18: back formation from rattling, variant of ratline]

Rattle (ˈrætəl)
Sir Simon. born 1955, British conductor. Principal conductor (1980--91) and music director (1991--98) of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra from 2002

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

early 14c., perhaps in O.E., but not recorded; if not, from M.Du. ratelen, probably of imitative origin (cf. Ger. rasseln "to rattle," Gk. kradao "I rattle"). Sense of "fluster" is first recorded 1869. The noun is first recorded c.1500, in ref. to the sound; as a child's toy, recorded from 1510s. Rattlesnake
is from 1620s; shortened form rattler is from 1827. Rattletrap is from 1766, originally a noun, "nicknacks, trifles, odds and ends;" adj. sense of "rickety" is recorded from 1834.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


percussion instrument consisting of resonant objects strung together and set in a sliding frame or enclosed in a container such that when it is shaken the parts strike against each other, producing sounds. In many societies, rattles are associated with the supernatural and accompany religious rites. Slung rattles (shells, bones, hooves, or similar objects strung on a cord or tied in bunches and attached to a dancer's body) are among the earliest musical instruments, appearing, along with gourd and tube rattles, in prehistoric times. Gourd rattles are particularly prominent as ritual instruments. Where gourds are uncommon, similar rattles are made of basketry, wood, clay, or other material. Gourd rattles known from their use in popular Latin American dance bands are the cabaca (Portuguese for "calabash"), a gourd enclosed in a beaded mesh, and maracas. Rattles are widely considered to have magical power, from the turtle rattles of the Native Americans of the northeastern United States and the gourd rattles of Amazonian Brazil to the shaman accoutrements of Africa and Oceania.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
The animals' horns are painted as brightly as the trucks that rattle past them.
Snakes add a new rattle segment each time they shed.
The sound generated by gushing rocket exhaust can rattle a launch vehicle into
The best writers tend to be able to rattle off the name of their favorite book
  on writing.
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