To tattle is to reveal a secret about another person. When someone tattles, it often results in problems for the person whose secret was revealed. Tattling generally occurs among children, but adults do it as well.

  • Cindy tattled on her brother, Bobby, who broke a lamp in the living room. She told their mother about it. Bobby got in trouble.
  • A student in the classroom tattled on another student who threw a paper airplane across the room. When the teacher found out who threw it, that student got in trouble.
  • Sarah’s constant tattling made her unpopular among other students. She developed a reputation as a tattletale.
  • Joe tattled on his boss for embezzling money from the company. Everyone was happy that he blew the whistle on his boss because the information that was revealed saved the company.

Even though tattling may result in revealing an important truth, you’ll often hear it said that no one likes a tattletale. A tattletale is a person who tattles, and sometimes a tattletale says things that aren’t true.

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This page was first published on October 20, 2013. It was updated on October 27, 2016.