See also: tell-tale



From tell +‎ tale.

Alternative formsEdit


  • (file)


telltale (plural telltales)

  1. One who divulges private information with intent to hurt others.
    Synonyms: blabbermouth, gossip, rumormonger, talebearer; see also Thesaurus:gossiper
    • 1596-97, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act V, Scene i[1]:
      No note at all of our being absence hence;
      Nor you, Lorenzo; Jessica, nor you.
      Your husband is at hand; I hear his trumpet:
      We are not tell-tales, madam; fear you not.
  2. (chiefly US, slang) Tattletale; squealer.
  3. (figuratively) Something that serves to reveal something else.
    The telltale was the lipstick on his shirt collar.
    • (Can we date this quote by Saintsbury and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      It supplies many useful links and telltales.
  4. (music) A movable piece of ivory, lead, or other material, connected to the bellows of an organ, whose position indicates when the wind is exhausted.
  5. (nautical) A length of yarn or ribbon attached to a sail or shroud etc to indicate the direction of the flow of the air relative to the boat.
  6. (nautical) A mechanical attachment to the steering wheel, which, in the absence of a tiller, shows the position of the helm.
  7. (nautical) A compass in the cabin of a vessel, usually placed where the captain can see it at all hours, and thus inform himself of the vessel's course.
  8. (engineering) A machine or contrivance for indicating or recording something, particularly for keeping a check upon employees (factory hands, watchmen, drivers, etc.) by revealing to their employers what they have done or omitted.
  9. A bird, the tattler.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for telltale in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)

Related termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


telltale (comparative more telltale, superlative most telltale)

  1. Revealing something, especially something not intended to be known.
    His eye was blinking, a telltale signal that he was lying.
    He blushed when he approached, a telltale sign that he was happy to see him.

Derived termsEdit