rattle through: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘rattle through’ mean?

The idiom "rattle through" means to quickly or hurriedly go through something, such as a list, a task, or a set of instructions, without paying much attention to the details or giving it much thought.

Idiom Explorer


The idiom "rattle through" is a widely used expression in both British and American English. "Rattle" comes from the Middle English word "ratelen," meaning to make rapid, percussive sounds. It is used metaphorically to describe moving or performing actions quickly and urgently.

In this context, "through" means completing or going over something swiftly, without paying attention to details. It signifies a hasty progression without focusing on specific aspects. When combined, "rattle" and "through" denote a quick and casual approach to accomplishing a task or going over something.

The idiom "rattle through" is primarily used to describe the act of performing a task swiftly, without much thought or careful consideration. It implies speed and efficiency, but also suggests a lack of thoroughness. It is commonly used in situations where the emphasis is on completing a task quickly, rather than achieving perfection.

I quickly hastened through the rattling train.

This idiom is often used in informal or colloquial conversation, as well as in written language. It can be found in a variety of contexts, ranging from everyday conversations to professional settings. For example, someone might say, "I just need to rattle through this report before the meeting," indicating their intention to quickly review or skim through the document without investing too much time or effort.

While the idiom "rattle through" generally conveys a sense of speed and efficiency, it can also imply a lack of thoroughness. This can be seen as both a strength and a weakness, depending on the context and desired outcome. It may be an effective approach when time is of the essence and a general overview suffices, but it may not be appropriate in situations that require precision or careful analysis.

The related idiom "whip through" shares similarities with "rattle through." "Whip through" also denotes doing something quickly and with speed, but it doesn't necessarily imply a lack of attention to detail. It suggests a level of ease and efficiency, as if the action can be completed effortlessly. Although "whip through" and "rattle through" have slightly different connotations, they both describe performing tasks swiftly.

Another related idiom is "rattle off." This idiom is similar to "rattle through," but it specifically refers to speaking or reciting something quickly and fluently. It is often used when someone effortlessly lists information or answers questions in rapid succession. While "rattle through" and "rattle off" share the word "rattle," the former emphasizes completing tasks quickly, while the latter focuses on speaking or reciting quickly.

To sum up, the idiom "rattle through" is commonly used to describe the act of performing a task quickly and casually, without much thought or attention to detail. It implies speed and efficiency, but may also suggest a lack of thoroughness. The related idioms "whip through" and "rattle off" share similarities with "rattle through," but they have slightly different connotations. It's important to consider the specific context and desired outcome before using these idioms in conversation or writing.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom *rattle through* can be used in a sentence:

  • I need you to rattle through this report before the meeting starts.
  • She managed to rattle through the exam questions with ease.
  • He quickly rattled through the list of instructions before beginning the task.

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