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If I drop a coin into a jar half-filled with coins, what is the common name of that sound? I.e. not the formal name, but the name that would be used in everyday talk.

As I understand it (based on translation from my language), the following words are "correct":

ring, jingle, ping, ding, chime, ting, chink, twang, ring out, clang, clunk

However, I need to know which one of those (or maybe some other?) is the best fit for the given case.

10 Answers 10

91

This can usually be called clink.

A light, sharp ringing sound, as of glass or metal.

It should be noted though that it isn't just limited to coins and, as such, can be used for multiple purposes. However, for what you describe, it could possibly be one of the better words.

For what it's worth, there's a sound-effect by the title clink of coins.

  • 3
    I did some research and that got me wondering, is this sound name (clink) more associated with doing a toast (where glasses meet) than with coins? – Lukas Kalinski Aug 29 '18 at 8:54
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    @LukasKalinski - It's associated with both. You might as well ask whether "crack" means the sound of a stick breaking or the sound of thunder. Lots of words are used in multiple situations. – AndyT Aug 29 '18 at 9:15
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    The onomatopoeia can be softened by using "chink", which is more like the sound of coin landing on layers already there, than the "clink" of a coin on glass? If I hear "clink", I'm afraid my piggy-bank is empty :( . – Robin Betts Aug 29 '18 at 10:41
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    @RobinBetts As pointed out further down the page, "chink" is a racial slur in the US. – Azor Ahai Aug 29 '18 at 22:39
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    "chink" is not a racial slur unless the speaker is talking about one or more persons. If I talk about the "chink of a coin" or a "chink in my armor," that is not a racial slur. Language changes fast enough; no need to change it faster merely to avoid offending someone who is being unreasonable. – WGroleau Aug 31 '18 at 13:12
33

Along with "clink" there is also the word plink.

a short, sharp, metallic or ringing sound.

I feel, from my view, this is more closely associated with metal on metal contact sounds. I initially heard the word in the context of sport or leisure shooting, "plinking" is the act of going out and shooting steel targets or even small aluminum cans. A small "plink" sound is heard each time a target is hit. Though much lower pitched, this is the same type of sound when tossing coins in a jar.

18

My first thought was "chink", that's how I'd describe the initial sound of one coin hitting others in a jar if there was no further movement of either the new coin or the ones already there.

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    I'd caution use of this word. In some cultures (parts of the United States, at least), this is used as a racial slur. – maxathousand Aug 29 '18 at 17:59
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    @maxathousand 'Chink' is a perfectly respectable word as listed in the OED. It might as well be said that one should never use a whole list of common words merely because some people have chosen to abuse the English language. – Nigel J Aug 29 '18 at 21:24
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    @NigelJ "[O]ne should never use a whole list of common words merely because some people have chosen to abuse the English language." I'd say this is absolutely right. This is why I do not call my in-law's dog a bitch, even though it's precisely accurate. I was just pointing out that use of this word might unintentionally cause certain audiences to feel unnecessary discomfort. – maxathousand Aug 29 '18 at 21:33
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    Wow...I really don't know what to say. Downvoted for a racist slur...I'll just clarify before I delete my account on here. chink (chĭngk) n. A slight, metallic sound, as of coins rattling in a pocket. intr. & tr.v. chinked, chink·ing, chinks To make or cause to make a slight, metallic sound. – Mordy Aug 30 '18 at 19:09
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    Strange to me that so many folk who purport to have some expertise in English would be so concerned about a word without any context. The context of "racist chink" is significantly different than the context of chink in this question. Should we not say that a cell culture was retarded by a medium because "retarded" can be a mean thing to say about someone with intellectual difficulties? Context, context, context. – Jesse Williams Aug 31 '18 at 20:34
11

Sound of coin hitting the jar full of coins or other coins in the jar is called jingling. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jingle

a light ringing sound that is made when metal objects hit each other.

It is obvious that coins are metal pieces.

Excerpt from wiki:

This design allowed coins to be put in the bottle but not allow them to be removed easily without the coins jingling against the glass. wiki: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Street_performance

Note: it is not specifically related only to coins.

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    I'm not a native speaker, but jingling makes me think of shaking the jar full of coins, probably because of jingles on a tambourine, or Jingle Bells and Christmas songs. – isanae Aug 29 '18 at 12:20
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    There's a difference in sound between two suspended metal objects hitting each other and one metal object hitting a pile of other metal objects. I don't think jingling is correct for the latter. – isanae Aug 29 '18 at 12:25
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    The Merriam-Webster definition is incomplete because it doesn't mention the fact that "jingle" suggests a multitude of little sounds rather than a single sound. – Tanner Swett Aug 29 '18 at 12:50
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    @ubihatt At least in the US, jingle is strongly associated with chimes or bells, which are generally hung or attached to a surface. The most common use of jingle with coins is to "jingle your change" meaning to shake or toss some loose coins in your pocket or hand. Jingle in this case is not wrong per se, but it usually implies a repeating deliberate sound, rather than a one-time incidental sound. – barbecue Aug 29 '18 at 15:41
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    @ubihatt the suggestion of suspension comes from the definition of a 'ringing sound'. Coins don't very much 'ring'. 'Ringing' is a ' resonant or vibrating sound', which isn't much what you get when you drop a coin onto a heap in a jar. You get a much duller sound, more of a small clatter. – Spagirl Aug 30 '18 at 15:23
8

Use "clink" when there are few coins and/or the jar is resonant. Pitch = high. Use "jingle" again where there are few coins. "Jingle" is (often) associated with "pants pocket." Pitch = high. Use "clunk" when the impact -- such as it is -- generates little sound because (a) the mass of coins below is large enough so that it does not respond and/or (b) the jar is heavy, or nearly full, and likewise does not react much. Pitch = low. You could avoid the construct by instead using "plunk," a verb meaning "to drop or toss one more thing onto a pile of things."

4

Alongside jingle, there is also jangle, which intimates a more discordant metallic sound:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jangle

  1. to make a harsh or discordant often ringing sound

keys jangling in my pocket

1a. to cause to sound harshly or inharmoniously

3

Roget's Thesaurus has a selection of suitable words in 403: Repeated and protracted sounds and 404: Resonance; as these are mostly onomatopoeic, choose that one that sounds closest to your experience:

  • rattle
  • clatter
  • clang
  • tinkle
  • jingle
  • chink
  • clink

Section 405: Non-resonance has some that are less likely for a small jar of coins, but may suit a much bigger jar (say 25cm or greater in diameter).

  • Is there a link to section 405 referred to here? – cjbarth Aug 31 '18 at 17:57
  • I'm not sure how to provide a link to a book - just grab it off the shelf and turn to that section. As I say, it's unlikely to be what's required for this question, which is looking for more resonant sounds. – Toby Speight Sep 3 '18 at 7:53
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    I would do it by Googling: roget.org/scripts/categoryxref.php?inputstring=405 – cjbarth Sep 5 '18 at 14:18
0

How about clank? It has the same meaning to me as clink - a sound or series of sounds of metal on metal.

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    Nah, clanking is big (usually metal) things, like gears, parts of an engine, or objects moving around in the boot (UK) or trunk (US) of your car (UK) or automobile (US). Not completely bad, it's mostly about the tone (large solid jar, big heavy coins, might clank, but clink seems more appropriate to the pitch of your usual coin-coin plus coin-jar collision sounds. – Will Crawford Aug 30 '18 at 18:54
-2

Cha-ching which is also the classic cash register sound

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    Yes, but that's the sound of old mechanical tills opening and the bell ringing. It's not the sound of coins rattling together. – BoldBen Aug 29 '18 at 22:00
  • Hi Mr. N! Welcome to EL&U please take the tour and read through the help centre. – bookmanu Aug 30 '18 at 9:15
  • Cha is the coin hitting the container, Ching is the coin hitting other coins – Mr. N Sep 8 '18 at 6:47
-9

Since clink, clank, chink, jingle, and jangle just don't "ring true" to me in this context, I'm going to suggest going metaphorical. You could say something like, "My heart warms a little every time I hear the gentle "sprinkle" of fresh coins landing on the pile in my coin jar."

I can't complete this answer without mentioning the fact that the timbre of the sound of "coins landing on other coins" is dependent on the material in which the coin pile is contained, and your word choice could reflect that fact. I might use "tinkle" or "sprinkle" for that sound coming out of a glass container (piggy bank, coin jar), and I might use "clang" or "jangle" for that sound coming out of a metal box (vending or slot machine's coin box, or a collector bin in a coin mint).

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    @LukasKalinski You asked for the "common name" for the sound, then accepted an answer with one upvote that is, at least in AmE, most definitely not the common name for that sound. – Kevin Aug 30 '18 at 12:01
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    This is doesn't seem to match the question. I don't see anything about literary flourish. The question just asks what the sound is called. – JimmyJames Aug 30 '18 at 14:03
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    In addition to the already mentioned issues with this answer, the word 'sprinkle' is not, to my knowledge, a name for a sound. – JimmyJames Aug 30 '18 at 16:10
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    @LukasKalinski you should either edit your question, or accept a different answer. No one in everyday talk (as requested by your question) says "the coins made a gentle sprinkle as they fell into the jar" or anything to that effect. If you do like this answer for its uniqueness, you should rephrase your question to omit the "common name" and "everyday talk" portions, otherwise this answer does not answer your question as written. – Doktor J Aug 30 '18 at 19:50
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    Ok ok, I get what you mean. I have reconsidered which answer to pick as the correct one, and I did that based on number of upvotes (as I'm unable to know myself which word is the best fit). – Lukas Kalinski Aug 31 '18 at 8:41

protected by MetaEd Aug 29 '18 at 23:29

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