rattle(redirected from rattles)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Encyclopedia.
rattle through (something)
To undertake to do or say something rather quickly, especially as a means of finishing as soon as possible. We've only got a few more things to do before we can close up for the night, so let's just rattle through them and get the heck out of here. My boss rattled through the list of regulations so quickly that I couldn't even catch half of what he said!
all horns and rattles
Furious. Belligerent. An American cowboy expression referring to the horns of cattle and the rattles of snakes. Joe's been all horns and rattles since the lawsuit. Would you stop yelling and being all horns and rattles? I'm just trying to have a calm conversation with you!
rattle around in something
1. Lit. to make a rattling noise inside something. What is rattling around in this package? There is something rattling around in my glove compartment.
2. Fig. to ride about in a vehicle with a rattle. I am perfectly happy to rattle around in my ten-year-old car. Todd rattles around in his grandfather's old car.
3. Fig. to live in a place that is much too big. We have been rattling around in this big old house for long enough. Let's move to a smaller place. I can't afford to rattle around in a three-story house any longer.
to chatter endlessly and aimlessly. The two old men sat there and rattled away at one another. Tom rattled away at Jane for a few minutes and then left the house.
rattle on (about someone or something)
Fig. to talk endlessly about someone or something. Martin talked incessantly. He would rattle on about any topic whenever he could trap an unfortunate listener.
rattle one's saberand rattle its saber
Fig. to make threatening statements or actions. The president is just rattling his saber. He would never attack such a small country!
rattle something offand reel something off
to recite something quickly and accurately. She can really reel song lyrics off. Listen to Mary rattle off those numbers.
1. Inf. upset; confused. Tom was slightly rattled by the policeman at the door. I'm slightly rattled. I'll get over it.
2. Inf. tipsy; intoxicated. He's only slightly rattled. He'll recover by morning. she can be really drunk and still seem only slightly rattled.
rattle somebody's cage
to make someone angry on purpose I rattled his cage by telling him I hated his art.
Etymology: based on the idea of rattling (making a noise by repeatedly hitting) the cage to annoy the animal inside it
rattle off somethingalso rattle something off
to say something quickly She rattled something off in French that I didn't understand.Related vocabulary: reel off something
Usage notes: often used when someone gives a list of facts or other related information from memory: Walter could rattle off the statistics of players from the 1920s and '30s.
rattle somebody's cage
to make someone angry on purpose, often in order to make them seem silly She tried to rattle his cage with questions about his failed army career.
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.
To recite something rapidly and easily; reel something off: She rattled off the names of people who had recently applied for the job opening. He knows every state capital and can easily rattle them off if you ask him to.
To talk continuously about something, especially to others not as interested in the subject as the speaker is: They kept rattling on about how much fun they had at the party, but I didn't really care.
1. mod. confused; bewildered. He tends to get a little rattled at minor things.
2. mod. tipsy; alcohol intoxicated. After an hour of drinking, Bill was more than a little rattled.
See also: rattle
n. a rattly (old) car; any rattly vehicle. I hear Ted’s rattle-trap in the driveway.
1. mod. upset; confused. (see also rattled.) Tom was slightly rattled by the trouble at the door.
2. mod. tipsy; alcohol intoxicated. She can be stone blind and still seem only slightly rattled.