1. Very thin sheets, strips, or threads of a glittering material used as a decoration.
2. Something sparkling or showy but basically valueless: the tinsel of parties and promotional events.
1. Made of or decorated with tinsel.
2. Gaudy, showy, and basically valueless.
tr.v. tin·seled, tin·sel·ing, tin·sels or tin·selled or tin·sel·ling
1. To decorate with or as if with tinsel: tinsel a Christmas tree.
2. To give a false sparkle to.
[Middle English tineseile, from Old French estincelle, spangle, spark; see STENCIL.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.