Tinsel was originally a metallic garland for Christmas decoration. Nowadays it is typically made of plastic, and used particularly to decorate Christmas trees. In addition it can be hung from walls or ceilings and is normally flexible enough to be wrapped around almost anything i.e. statues or lamposts. It was invented in Nuernberg, Germany in 1610, and was originally made of shredded silver. [cite web | url=http://inventors.about.com/od/articlesandresources/a/christmas.htm | title=The History of Christmas Stuff | publisher=About.com | accessdate=2007-06-10]

According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, the word is from the Old French word "estincele", meaning sparkle.

Tinsel used to include lead, which caused the strands to hang better from the branches. This was eventually removed due to safety concerns.Fact|date=June 2007

Tinsel also can harm or kill pets, so it should be used cautiously in homes with pets. [cite web | url=http://www.extension.umn.edu/info-u/pets/BB495.html | title=Holiday Hazards for Your Pets | publisher=University of Minnesota | accessdate=2008-03-19]


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  • Tinsel — Tin sel, n. [F. [ e]tincelle a spark, OF. estincelle, L. scintilla. Cf. {Scintillate}, {Stencil}.] 1. A shining material used for ornamental purposes; especially, a very thin, gauzelike cloth with much gold or silver woven into it; also, very… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tinsel — [tin′səl] n. [aphetic < MFr estincelle, a spark, spangle: see STENCIL] 1. Historical a cloth of silk, wool, etc. interwoven with glittering threads of gold, silver, or other metal 2. thin sheets, strips, or threads of tin, metal foil, etc.,… …   English World dictionary

  • Tinsel — Tin sel, a. Showy to excess; gaudy; specious; superficial. Tinsel trappings. Milton. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Tinsel — Tin sel, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Tinseled}or {Tinselled}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Tinseling} or {Tinselling}.] To adorn with tinsel; to deck out with cheap but showy ornaments; to make gaudy. [1913 Webster] She, tinseled o er in robes of varying hues. Pope …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tinsel — index meretricious, tawdry Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • tinsel — (n.) mid 15c., a kind of cloth made with interwoven gold or silver thread, from M.Fr. estincelle spark, spangle (see STENCIL (Cf. stencil)). Meaning very thin sheets or strips of shiny metal is recorded from 1590s. Figurative sense of anything… …   Etymology dictionary

  • tinsel — ► NOUN 1) a form of decoration consisting of thin strips of shiny metal foil attached to a length of thread. 2) superficial attractiveness or glamour. DERIVATIVES tinselled adjective tinselly adjective. ORIGIN Old French estincele spark , from… …   English terms dictionary

  • tinsel — tinsellike, adj. /tin seuhl/, n., adj., v., tinseled, tinseling or (esp. Brit.) tinselled, tinselling. n. 1. a glittering metallic substance, as copper or brass, in thin sheets, used in pieces, strips, threads, etc., to produce a sparkling effect …   Universalium

  • tinsel — I. noun Etymology: Middle English tyneseyle cloth interwoven with metallic thread, probably from Anglo French tencelé, past participle of tenceler, estenceler to sparkle more at stencil Date: 1538 1. threads, strips, or sheets of metal, paper, or …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • tinsel — 1. noun /ˈtɪn.səl/ a) 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 …   Wiktionary

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