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[rat-l] /ˈræt 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) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for rattle down


to make or cause to make a rapid succession of short sharp sounds, as of loose pellets colliding when shaken in a container
to shake or cause to shake with such a sound: the explosion rattled the windows
to send, move, drive, etc, with such a sound: the car rattled along the country road
(intransitive) foll by on. to chatter idly; talk, esp at length: he rattled on about his work
(transitive; foll by off, out etc) to recite perfunctorily or rapidly
(transitive) (informal) to disconcert; make frightened or anxious
a rapid succession of short sharp sounds
an object, esp a baby's toy, filled with small pellets that rattle when shaken
a series of loosely connected horny segments on the tail of a rattlesnake, vibrated to produce a rattling sound
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)
idle chatter
an idle chatterer
(med) another name for rale
Word Origin
C14: from Middle Dutch ratelen; related to Middle High German razzen, of imitative origin


(transitive) often foll by down. to fit (a vessel or its rigging) with ratlines
Word Origin
C18: back formation from rattling, variant of ratline


Sir Simon. born 1955, English 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 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for rattle down



c.1300 (intransitive), "To make a quick sharp noise with frequent repetitions and collisions of bodies not very sonorous: when bodies are sonorous, it is called jingling" [Johnson]. Perhaps in Old English but not recorded; if not, from Middle Dutch ratelen, probably of imitative origin (cf. German rasseln "to rattle," Greek kradao "I rattle"). Sense of "utter smartly and rapidly" is late 14c. Meaning "to go along loosely and noisily" is from 1550s. Transitive sense is late 14c.; figurative sense of "fluster" is first recorded 1869. Related: Rattled; rattling.


c.1500, "rapid succession of short, sharp sounds," from rattle (v.). As a child's toy, recorded from 1510s. As a sound made in the throat (especially of one near death) from 1752.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for rattle down


  1. (also rattle on) To talk on and on, esp foolishly or pointlessly; babble (1594+)
  2. To confuse; upset; disturb concentration: I rattled him with veiled menaces (1869+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Encyclopedia Article for rattle down


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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