There are 2 main definitions of hum in English:

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hum 1

Pronunciation: /hʌm/

verb (hums, humming, hummed)

[no object]
1Make a low, steady continuous sound like that of a bee: the computers hummed
More example sentences
  • A solid wooden floor supports an enormous desk and the latest model PC computer hums quietly, awaiting instruction.
  • Steve Gigl has what it takes to keep our computers humming here at Blogger General.
  • Chizuru ended up staring straight at the ceiling of her room, the gentle purr of the air-conditioner humming inside her ears.
purr, whir, throb, vibrate, murmur, buzz, thrum, drone
literary susurrate, bombinate
1.1Sing with closed lips: he hummed softly to himself [with object]: she was humming a cheerful tune
More example sentences
  • Observe that would normally be followed up by the speaker actually humming or singing the tune in question.
  • After a while he stopped humming and began to sing to himself softly.
  • All she heard was a strangely familiar tune, softly hummed in time with the steps.
sing, croon, murmur, drone
1.2(Of a place) be filled with a low, steady continuous sound: the room hummed with an expectant murmur
More example sentences
  • The place hummed with a much smaller project as Graham buzzed away happily in his workshop making mouldings for the window repair job.
  • The huge place fairly hummed with magical energy, for which he was vastly grateful.
  • The room fairly hummed with productivity, and it echoed in Jonathan's step.
2 informal Be in a state of great activity: the house was humming with preparations for the dance
More example sentences
  • Three hundred marshalling yards, 2,300 goods sheds and 700 repair depots keep humming with activity all the time.
  • A textile factory in Sri Lanka hums with activity.
  • The headquarters was air conditioned, crowded and humming with activity from early morning until late at night.
be busy, be active, be lively, buzz, bustle, be bustling, be a hive of activity, throb, vibrate, pulsate, pulse
3British informal Smell unpleasant: when the wind drops this stuff really hums
More example sentences
  • She had unwillingly become immune to the humming stench.
  • One of the staff turned up & was humming; I couldn't have him putting customers off their beer, seeing as I was in charge, so I had no choice but to tell him.
smell, stink, stink to high heaven, reek, have a bad smell, be malodorous
British informal pong


[in singular]
1A low, steady continuous sound: the hum of insects a low hum of conversation
More example sentences
  • I could hear the sound of cars in the distance (you know, the low hum of continuous traffic), so I walked towards it.
  • The steady hum of conversation flowed from inside of the cabin.
  • The only sound was the low hum of the lights, everything was quiet.
1.1An unwanted low-frequency noise in an amplifier caused by variation of electric current, especially the alternating frequency of the mains.
Example sentences
  • We did a very extensive mapping of the different primary frequencies of the hum and then its harmonics.
  • The only adjustments he makes are to apply De-Hiss filtering and remove low frequency hum.
  • Stereos don't make any noise, except a very slight electrical hum.


hum and haw (or chiefly North American hem and haw)

British Be indecisive: I was humming and hawing over buying copies
More example sentences
  • There's been a bunch of legal experts wheeled on to hum and haw about this - perhaps it's good for Michael, because they'd know that kids lie.
  • But when I ask his closest advisers whether the Prime Minister has been persuaded of this, they hum and haw.
  • We, as girls, will hem and haw and analyze every letter of what we say to that ‘chosen ‘guy, and worry about how we're coming off, and just worry in general.
British  haver;
Scottish  swither
archaic or literary tarry



Example sentences
  • ‘They are all hummable songs,’ Mann explained, ‘but actually learning them is a bit difficult, especially once you have to be dancing and singing at the same time.’
  • The arias selected are eminently familiar and hummable - from Aida, Nabucco, Otello, Rigoletto and Il Trovatore among others - and everyone enjoys themselves hugely.
  • They are forgettable not because they are boring, but because the chorus always hits with such a wave of hummable, nostalgic melody that it overpowers them, every time.


Example sentences
  • Singer-songwriters, sensitive poets, hummers and strummers, whatever you call them, they are the backbone of any folk festival.
  • Demanding, but charming, the hummers would not be denied.
  • The giddy rush of buying a hummer of an album makes me happy.


Late Middle English: imitative.

Words that rhyme with hum

become, benumb, Brum, bum, chum, crumb, drum, glum, gum, ho-hum, Kara Kum, lum, mum, numb, plum, plumb, Rhum, rhumb, rum, scrum, scum, slum, some, strum, stum, succumb, sum, swum, thrum, thumb, tum, yum-yum
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There are 2 main definitions of hum in English:

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hum 2

Pronunciation: /hʌm/


Used to express hesitation or dissent: ‘Ah, hum, Elsie, isn’t it?’ ‘Hum. How long did you invite her for?’
More example sentences
  • Hum, wonder who emailed overnight?
  • Hum, wonder if they'll hire an NYC based firm?


Mid 16th century: imitative; related to the verb hum1.

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