a glittering metallic substance, as copper or brass, in thin sheets, used in pieces, strips, threads, etc., to produce a sparkling effect cheaply.
a metallic yarn, usually wrapped around a core yarn of silk, rayon, or cotton, for weaving brocade or lamé.
anything showy or attractive with little or no real worth; showy pretense: The actress was tired of the fantasy and tinsel of her life.
Obsolete. a fabric, formerly in use, of silk or wool interwoven with threads of gold, silver, or, later, copper.
consisting of or containing tinsel.
showy; gaudy; tawdry.
verb (used with object), tinseled, tinseling or (especially British) tinselled, tinselling.
to adorn with tinsel.
to adorn with anything glittering.
to make showy or gaudy.

1495–1505; by aphesis < Middle French estincelle (Old French estincele) a spark, flash < Vulgar Latin *stincilla, metathetic variant of Latin scintilla scintilla; first used attributively in phrases tinsel satin, tinsel cloth

tinsellike, adjective
overtinsel, verb (used with object), overtinseled, overtinseling or (especially British) overtinselled, overtinselling.
untinseled, adjective
untinselled, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
tinsel (ˈtɪnsəl)
1.  a decoration consisting of a piece of string with thin strips of metal foil attached along its length
2.  a yarn or fabric interwoven with strands of glittering thread
3.  anything cheap, showy, and gaudy
vb , -sels, -selling, -selled, -sels, -seling, -seled
4.  to decorate with or as if with tinsel: snow tinsels the trees
5.  to give a gaudy appearance to
6.  made of or decorated with tinsel
7.  showily but cheaply attractive; gaudy
[C16: from Old French estincele a spark, from Latin scintilla; compare stencil]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

c.1448, "a kind of cloth made with interwoven gold or silver thread," from M.Fr. estincelle "spark, spangle" (see stencil). Meaning "very thin sheets or strips of shiny metal" is recorded from 1593. Fig. sense of "anything showy with little real worth" is from 1660, suggested
from at least 1595. First recorded use of Tinseltown for "Hollywood" is from 1975.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Nothing obviously seasonal about it, so you won't get tired of it by the time
  you take down the tinsel.
But they caution that a tree with tinsel or fake snow spray cannot be recycled.
Smiling and cruel, they pitilessly searched and appraised all her poor artless
  finery of spangles and tinsel.
The tin, tinsel, and ribbon packaging added an unusual elegance to a holiday
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