Green’s Dictionary of Slang

rattle-head n.

also rattle-bladder, -box, -brain(s), -pate, -skull

1. an excitable, foolish person, a fool; thus rattle-headed/-pated adj., foolish, chattering.

[UK]G. Harvey Pierce’s Supererogation 72: Yet shall I putt a beane into Gawins ratling scull: and tell thee, where thy slashing Long-sword commeth short?
[UK]W. Prynne Histrio-Mastix I v: The dissoluteness of our lascivious, impudent, rattle-pated gadding females .
[UK]T. Heywood Love’s Mistress I i: Boyes without beards get boyes, and Girles bear girles, fine little rattle-pates thus high.
W. Prynne Gagge for Long-Hair’d Rattle-Heads 2: Rattle-heads then, with more haire than wit.
[UK]Parliament of Ladies 3: The Rattle-headed Ladyes being Assembled at Kates in the Covent-Garden [...] spent some time in choosing of their Speaker.
[UK]Mennis & Smith ‘The Shepheards Holy Day’ Fancies and Fantasticks (1817) II 367: Oh ye never heard a sadder, / When a rattleheaded cutter, / Makes his will before supper, / To the tune of the Nooze and the Ladder.
[UK]J. Hacket Memorial of John Williams Pt 1 130: Many Rattleheads, as well as they, did bestir them to gain-stand this Match.
[UK]N. Ward London Spy XII 281: I thought it so Ungrateful to any Charitable Ear, to hear a Rattle-headed Prattlebox set up to Reform the Church.
[UK]Farquhar Sir Harry Wildair V iii: I rather fancy that the rattle-headed Fellow her Husband, has broken the poor Lady’s heart.
[UK]N. Ward Compleat and Humorous Account of Remarkable Clubs (1756) 64: A rattle-headed Baker, no more mealy-mouth’d than the rest of the Society.
[UK]N. Ward Rambling Fuddle-Caps 8: Beholding the Rattle-brains, marry thought I, I have heard of a Puppy put into a Pye.
[UK]Cibber Refusal 37: Not being in the least apprehensive either of the Stocks rising to that Price, or that this Rattle-headed Fellow could possiby make such a Fortune in that time.
[Scot]A. Ramsay Gentle Shepherd I ii: Hey Lass! How can ye loo that Rattle-scul?
[UK]R. King New London Spy 136: [A] rattle-headed prattle box.
[UK]Comical Hist. of Simple John 2: His mother was a rattling rattle scul’d wife.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Rattle-pate. A volatile, unsteady, or whimsical man or woman.
[UK]A. Shirrefs Jamie and Bess II i: Gin Geordy be the rattle-scull I’m taul, I may expect to find him stiff and baul. [Ibid.] V i: Keep ye your clack, ye rattle-headed ass.
[UK]G.A. Stevens Adventures of a Speculist II 151: He was such a rattle-head, so inconstant and so unthinking.
[UK]C. Dibdin Yngr Song Smith 55: Your fine beaux and belles, and your rattle-pate rakes, / One half are game Nuts, the rest gingerbead Cakes.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[Scot]Scots Mag. 1 Apr. 55/2: Some hairum-skairum rattle-skull.
Hazlitt Fight [ebook] Toms is a rattle-brain.
[UK]C. Lamb Elia Ser. 1 (1835) 12: A little less facetious, and a great deal more obstreperous, was fine rattling, rattleheaded Plumer.
[UK]Quid 11: A wild, rattle-headed, talkative fellow.
[US]N. Hawthorne Amer. Notebooks (1932) 66: There is much exaggeration and rattle-brain about this fellow.
[US]Gleaner (Manchester, NH) 9 Dec. n.p.: [The] cosmopolite, comical, catechumen, rattleheaded, hairbraided, and spasmodic.
[UK]Leics. Chron. 26 Oct. 4/1: The Prince of Wales and four or five rattled-brained fellows like himself.
[UK]C. Kingsley Two Years Ago II 27: I ought to have told you of that doctor [...] but rattle-pate as I am, I forgot all about it.
[Scot]Stirling Obs. 19 Nov. 3/6: If we put in a few jokes, folks say we are nothing but a rattle-head.
[UK]Pall Mall Gaz. 20 Feb. 7/2: A flashy, shallow-pated, conceited rattle-brain.
[UK]Burnley Advertiser 4 Nov. 3/7: Yet how living his words are still [...] so that let them be ranted by the emptiest rattle-pate.
[UK]Morn. Post 10 June 3/4: Every one feels relieved at being delivered from such a rattle-brain.
[UK]London Life 23 Aug. 3/1: [T]he little girl [...] is one of his ‘decoy ducks,’ and judging from the way they eye young Lord Rattlepate as he passes by, some villianous scheme is being concocted.
[UK]G.R. Sims Dagonet Ballads 40: He is jealous, this burly lord of mine, / Jealous of rattlepate handsome Guy.
[US]C.A. Siringo Texas Cow Boy (1950) 179: Mrs. Newell had accompanied Bulah [...] so as to keep ‘the wild rattled-brain girl,’ as she called her, under her wing.
[UK]Manchester Eve. News 18 June 2/3: A mere rattle-pate. he has never studied Indian subjects.
[Scot]Aberdeen Jrnl 29 Oct. 5/5: Patie, Ramsay’s Gentle Shepherd, is represented as a rattle-skull.
[UK]E. Pugh Tony Drum 149: Don’t be cross with your poor old father because he rattles the peas in the bladder now and then. He, he! He is very pleased with himself to-night, your father is. He wants exceedingly to rejoice.
[US]L.A. Herald 14 Apr. n.p.: Jack, you youing rattlebrain, how much more is there.
[US]Wood & Goddard Dict. Amer. Sl. 43: rattlebox, rattlebrain, rattlehead, rattlepate. Nobody at home; an empty-head.
[US]W. Winchell Your Broadway & Mine 8 Nov. [synd. col.] Venom from various rattlebrains.
[US]M. Levin Reporter 54: After all, he ought to ridicule the old rattlebox.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Hold ’Em, Yale!’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 150: She [...] is somewhat rattle-headed, because she gabs away very freely.
[Scot]Eve. Teleg. 26 May 2/4: His mother’s servant predicted he would be ‘naething but a rattle-skill’.
[Ire]F. O’Connor An Only Child (1970) 63: He was a rattlepate and never in time for anything.

2. in attrib. use of sense 1.

[UK]Taunton Courier 17 Nov. 4/5: A rattle-brain story.
[Scot]Dundee Courier 10 Jan. 5/4: If the rattle-brain extremists start preaching violence, things will be far worse.

3. a form of cocktail.

[UK]Exeter & Plymouth Gaz. 1 May 6/2: The West indies is the country for drinks [...] Imagine a draught [...] composed of brandy, rum, wine and porter, with lime-peel and nutmeg [...] appropriately designated rattle-skull.