rattle off

Idioms & Phrases

rattle off

Also, reel off. Utter or perform rapidly or effortlessly, often at length. For example, The treasurer rattled off the list of all those who had not paid their dues, or She reeled off song after song. The verb rattle has been used for fast talking since the late 1300s and for other kinds of fast production since the late 1800s (George Bernard Shaw wrote of "men who rattle off their copy" in a letter of 1896). The verb reel off, which alludes to unwinding from a reel, has been used figuratively since about 1830.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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