• (British, America) IPA: /ˈtɪn.səl/

tinsel (uncountable)

  1. A shining material used for ornamental purposes; especially, a very thin, gauzelike cloth with much gold or silver woven into it; also, very thin metal overlaid with a thin coating of gold or silver, brass foil, or the like.
    • 1675, John Dryden, Aureng-zebe
      Who can discern the tinsel from the gold?
  2. Very thin strips of a glittering, metallic material used as a decoration, and traditionally draped at Christmas time over streamers, paper chains and the branches of Christmas trees.
  3. Anything shining and gaudy; something superficially shining and showy, or having a false luster, and more pretty than valuable.
    • William Cowper:
      O happy peasant! O unhappy bard! His the mere tinsel, hers the rich reward.
Translations Translations Adjective


  1. Glittering, later especially superficially so; gaudy, showy.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.1:
      Her garments all were wrought of beaten gold, / And all her steed with tinsell trappings shone […]

tinsel (tinsels, present participle tinselling; past and past participle tinselled)

  1. (transitive) To adorn with tinsel; to deck out with cheap but showy ornaments; to make gaudy.
    • Alexander Pope:
      She, tinseled o'er in robes of varying hues
  2. (figuratively, transitive) To give a false sparkle to (something).

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