The shiny silver strands hanging from the branches of a Christmas tree are called tinsel. Tinsel is older than you might think—it was invented in 1610!

Tinsel was designed to mimic the way ice looks, and the earliest tinsel was made from strips of real silver (today's tinsel is PVC plastic with a metallic coating). It's a traditional Christmas decoration that is also frequently used in India for wedding celebrations and other ceremonies. You can also use the word tinsel to refer to things that look fancy but are actually worthless—which is where Hollywood's nickname, Tinseltown, comes from.

Definitions of tinsel
  1. noun
    a thread with glittering metal foil attached
    see moresee less
    type of:
    thread, yarn
    a fine cord of twisted fibers (of cotton or silk or wool or nylon etc.) used in sewing and weaving
  2. noun
    a showy decoration that is basically valueless
    “all the tinsel of self-promotion”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    decoration, ornament, ornamentation
    something used to beautify
  3. verb
    adorn with tinsel
    “snow flakes tinseled the trees”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    adorn, beautify, decorate, embellish, grace, ornament
    make more attractive by adding ornament, colour, etc.
  4. verb
    interweave with tinsel
    tinseled velvet”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    interweave, weave
    interlace by or as if by weaving
  5. verb
    impart a cheap brightness to
    “his tinseled image of Hollywood”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    add, bestow, bring, contribute, impart, lend
    bestow a quality on
Word Family
F1 image

Express yourself in 25 languages

  • Learn immersively - no memorization required
  • Build skills for real-world conversations
  • Get immediate feedback on your pronunciation
Get started for $7.99/month