A tattletale is a person who informs an authority about other people’s transgressions. A tattletale is usually a child who tells a teacher about classmates’ wrongdoings. Tattletale is applied in a derogatory manner, as the wrongdoing that the tattletale reports on is usually inconsequential, the tattletale is informing on his classmate in order to gain attention. Tattletaling may be used as a verb, but usually the shorter word, tattle is employed. Tattletale is primarily used in the United States and Canada.
A telltale is a person who informs an authority about other people’s transgressions. A telltale is usually a child who tells a teacher about classmates’ wrongdoings. Telltale is used in British English in the same way that tattletale is used in North American English. Telltale also means a visual clue about something that is hidden, this definition of telltale is used the world over.
No parent wants his or her child to be a tattletale, and no one wants to befriend one either. (The News Journal)
But council members are also shrewd in pursuing more pragmatic options, including so-called “tattletale lights” at intersections to help police more efficiently catch our many red-light scofflaws. (The Waco Tribune)
Telltale potato on ground helps officers form theory about building damage and other Taylor police reports (The News-Herald)
It’s a telltale sign that the calf was becoming a “ghost moose”—an animal so irritated by ticks that it rubs off most of its dark brown hair, exposing its pale undercoat and bare skin. (National Geographic)
Teenagers used to listen for the telltale click of a parent eavesdropping on the telephone line. (The New York Times)