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rattle (one's) cage
To purposefully anger, upset, or unnerve one, especially to affect their performance or undermine their credibility. He makes a point of taunting his opponents before each match in order to rattle their cage. The audience member asked a number of embarrassing questions about her past in an obvious attempt to rattle her cage.
rattle (one's) saber
To make aggressive, blustering, typically empty threats. I'd like to think that his threats are just him rattling his saber, but I'm not too sure anymore. The boss just likes to rattle her saber every now and then to make herself feel powerful.
rattle around (something or some place)
1. To make a series of continuous clinking noises (inside of something), like a rattle. A pebble or something must have gotten inside of the casing—I can hear it rattling around. The coins rattled around in her piggy bank as she carried it up the stairs.
2. To make a lot of various clinking or banging noises (in some place or thing). I could hear you rattling around downstairs at 3 AM. What on earth were you doing down there? Don't mind those sounds, it's just Tom rattling around in the attic.
3. To live or spend time in some large, empty or uninhabited place or thing. You can probably find Dr. Fleischer rattling around in his lab. It makes me sad to think of my mother rattling around in that big old house all on her own.
4. To exist persistently in one's mind. I've had this idea rattling around in my head for the last few days that I'm really excited to pursue. I may be nearly 90 years old, but I've still got a few sensible thoughts rattling around up there yet!
To speak tediously and at great length (about something). He just kept rattling away about literary metaphors and imagery. I didn't know what he was talking about! I caught myself starting to fall asleep while the professor rattled away.
To say or recite something very quickly, without much thought or consideration. This guy doesn't know what he's talking about; he's just rattling off a bunch of industry buzz words. The accountant rattled the numbers off to me, but I couldn't tell you what they all meant.
To speak tediously and at great length (about something). He just kept rattling on about literary metaphors and imagery. I didn't know what he was talking about! I caught myself starting to fall asleep while the professor rattled on.
To make aggressive, blustering, and typically empty threats. I'd like to think that the country's threats of nuclear extermination are just them rattling sabers, but I'm not too sure anymore. The boss just likes to rattle sabers every now and then to make herself feel powerful.
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!
Words and actions that seek to convey anger, power, and intimidation, often in a military setting. The leaders of these countries need to quit their saber rattling before we end up at war.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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 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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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.
A flamboyant display of military power; also, aggressive blustering. For example, There had been a great deal of saber rattling between the two nations but hostilities had never broken out . This term, originating about 1920 and alluding to an officer indicating he would draw his saber, at first referred to threatening military force but later was extended to more general use, as in Both candidates engaged in pre-debate saber rattling.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
COMMON Sabre-rattling is aggressive behaviour in which threats are made, often of military action. Note: `Sabre' is spelled `saber' in American English. He accused the country of sabre-rattling and taking the first step in the trade war. Note: You can also say that someone rattles their sabre or that people rattle sabres. Still, it is good to see both sides talking, rather than rattling sabres at each other. Note: A sabre is a heavy sword with a curved blade that was used in the past by soldiers on horseback.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
mod. excellent. (see also rocking.) Her party was really rattling.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.