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. <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.

<botany> Yellow rattle, a yellow-flowered herb (Rhinanthus Crista-galli), the ripe seeds of which rattle in the inflated calyx.

(01 Mar 1998)

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