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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!
See also: rattle

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!
See also: all, and, horn, rattle

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.
See also: around, rattle

rattle away

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.
See also: away, rattle

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.
See also: on, rattle

rattle one's saber

 and 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!
See also: rattle, saber

rattle something off

 and reel something off
to recite something quickly and accurately. She can really reel song lyrics off. Listen to Mary rattle off those numbers.
See also: off, rattle

slightly rattled

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.
See also: rattle, slightly

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
See also: cage, rattle

rattle off something

also rattle something off
to say something quickly She rattled something off in French that I didn't understand.
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.
Related vocabulary: reel off something
See also: off, rattle

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.
See also: cage, rattle

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.
See also: off, rattle

rattle off

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.
See also: off, rattle

rattle on

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.
See also: on, rattle


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.

slightly rattled

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.
See also: rattle, slightly
References in periodicals archive ?
Made from clay made in Austin, TX, the rattles are wrapped with artificial sinew adorned with sparkling Japanese glass seed beads.
Hazard: The pom-pom tail can detach from the body of the bear rattle and the bunny, posing a choking hazard to young children.
Today, most manufacturers offer a rattle-type plug with lots of rattles, and some offer what are now called "low-frequency knockers" which are the lipless crankbaits that have only a single rattle instead of several in their internal sound cavity.
Along with rattles, drums were a major part of trance-related music.
The cords used on the rattles also posed a strangulation risk to children.
Many factors can cause an annoying rattle or vibration including loose interior trim, grommets, screws, trim-clips, tie-clips, poorly-fitted satellite navigation systems, hands-free phone kits, i-Pod audio adapter kits and tracker devices.
The group's latest CD, Rattle & Drum, features 11 original songs written by Asani members, past and present.
And I'm not suggesting lightweight synthetic horns or a rattle bag, because they simply can't produce enough volume.
The Indians agree he's hard to rattle and didn't notice any sign of nerves even against Los Alamitos.
But in the last week three babies had lucky escapes after the rattles - which have a green cord - became wedged in their mouths.
The red and black plastic Ladybird rattle has been sold around the world since March 1997.
While silver picture frames hold special memories, silver baby rattles capture tiny teething marks in time.
Remedy: Consumers should take the recalled rattles away from young children immediately and contact Midwest-CBK for a full refund.
The Baby Sesame Street line offers a darling collection of amusing Medium Plush with sound: Elmo rattles, Big Bird chirps and Cookie Monster chimes ($12/SRP).
Name of Product: Manhattan Toy Quixel(TM) baby rattles