Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
January 19th, 2015
Episode 81 of 923 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 19, 2015 is: tintinnabulation \tin-tuh-nab-yuh-LAY-shun\ noun 1 : the ringing or sounding of bells 2 : a jingling or tinkling sound as if of bells Examples: The tintinnabulation that could be heard throughout the village was from the church on the common announcing morning services. "The song opens with the far-away electric tintinnabulation of an ice cream truck." Colette McIntyre, Styleite, September 4, 2014 Did you know? If the sound of tintinnabulation rings a bell, that may be because it traces to a Latin interpretation of the sound a ringing bell makes. Our English word derives from tintinnabulum, the Latin word for "bell." That Latin word, in turn, comes from the verb tintinnare, which means "to ring, clang, or jingle." Like the English terms "ting" and "tinkle," tintinnare originated with a vocal imitation of the sound associated with itthat is, it is onomatopoeic. Edgar Allan Poe celebrates the sonic overtones of tintinnabulation in his poem "The Bells," which includes lines about "the tintinnabulation that so musically wells / From the bells, bells, bells, bells, / Bells, bells, bells/ From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells."