Printable Version
Pronunciation: jing-êl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive

Meaning: 1. To make multiple tingling sounds, multiple small bell-like sounds. 2. A catchy slogan, especially in an advertisement on radio or TV; a catchy line repeated in a poem.

Notes: Today's Good Word is most likely best known for its place in the title of Jingle Bells, a stalwart in the Christmas canon of songs. It is a pure English word, so the present participle, jingling, serves as adjective and action noun. The sound of a single tiny bell is a tinkle, but it takes a bevy of them to jingle.

In Play: Besides bells, keys and some jewelry are known to jingle: "We always know when Maude Lynn Dresser arrives at a party; we can hear all her bling jingling." This does not prevent us from using the word metaphorically: "The jingle of her anklets blended well with the jingle of her laughter."

Word History: This word was created by onomatopoeia, just like tinkle. It may have been Germanic for we find Dutch jengelen "whine", but no trace of it in any other Germanic language. Germanic languages do have onomatopoetic words referring to the sounds of bells: German klingeln "tinkle" and klappern "clatter". Jingle-jangle seems to be a rhyming compound, unrelated to jangle, another word meaning "to jabber (angrily)". ('Twas Rob Towart who suggested today's most topical, very Christmassy Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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