- a person who tells secrets or informs; talebearer; tattler
- an outward indication of something secret
- any of various devices for indicating or recording information; indicator; specif.,
- ☆ a row of dangling ropes, etc. hung over a railroad track to warn trainmen, riding on top of a car, of an approaching low bridge, tunnel, etc.
- a device indicating the position of a ship's rudder
- a time clock
- a gauge on a pipe organ showing the air pressure
revealing or indicating that which is hidden or meant to be secret: the telltale smell of alcohol on his breath
- One who informs on another; a talebearer.
- Something that indicates or reveals information; a sign.
- Any of various devices that indicate or register information, especially:a. A time clock.b. Nautical One of the brightly colored lengths of yarn or ribbon attached to the shrouds, stays, or sails of a sailboat, serving to indicate wind direction relative to the boat's motion.c. A row of strips hung above a railroad track to warn a passing train of low clearance ahead.
- Sports A resonant metal strip, 24 or 30 inches (61 or 76 centimeters) high, across the bottom of the front wall of a racquets or squash court above which the ball must be hit.
- One who divulges private information with intent to hurt others.
- (chiefly US, slang) Tattletale; squealer.
- Something that serves to reveal something else.
- The telltale was the lipstick on his shirt collar.
- (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.
- (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.
- (nautical) A mechanical attachment to the steering wheel, which, in the absence of a tiller, shows the position of the helm.
- (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.
- (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.
- A bird, the tattler.
- tell tales
(comparative more telltale, superlative most telltale)
- revealing 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.
From Old English (circa 1550)
(comparative more tell-tale, superlative most tell-tale)
- Alternative spelling of telltale.