Definition of quaver in English:


Line breaks: qua¦ver
Pronunciation: /ˈkweɪvə


[no object]
  • (Of a person’s voice) shake or tremble in speaking, typically through nervousness or emotion: his voice quavered with rage (as adjective quavering) ‘I’m not safe here, am I?’ she said in a quavering voice
    More example sentences
    • Monty spins to attention, his head raised with great offense, his voice quavering with emotion - ‘Why did you say that?’
    • His voice quavering, the senator added, ‘I'm also sorry if anything I said in any way cast a negative light on our fine men and women in the military.’
    • ‘I couldn't stop in time,’ he explained, voice quavering.
    tremble, quiver, shake, flutter, vibrate, pulsate, oscillate, fluctuate, waver, ripple, falter, trill, twitter, warble


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  • 1A shake or tremble in a person’s voice: it was impossible to hide the slight quaver in her voice
    More example sentences
    • Despite himself, a little quaver was in his voice.
    • It's a mark of the return of confidence that no one said this with a quaver in their voice or a God-Willing shrug.
    • Andrew Shore's Don Alfonso, in spite of a quaver in his voice, was expert and satisfying.
  • 2 Music , chiefly British A note having the time value of an eighth of a semibreve or half a crotchet, represented by a large dot with a hooked stem. Also called eighth note.
    More example sentences
    • Furthermore, a comparison of the way in which crotchets and quavers are notated makes it likely that the same scribe copied both works.
    • Hopkins, an amateur composer, often described his theory in terms of musical notation, speaking of rests, crotchets, and quavers.
    • Tom is still performing, taking time each day to keep up with his dotted quavers and four beat notes.



More example sentences
  • ‘By the author of The Remains of The Day’ they quaveringly assert on the cover of his new novel.
  • The shorter man bravely risked embarrassment and asked quaveringly, ‘What woman?’
  • She gulped before asking quaveringly, ‘Um, sir… could you please tell us where we are?’


More example sentences
  • When Merce Cunningham calls from his home in New York, his soft voice sounds frail and quavery.
  • So it's not that your voice becomes more quavery when you're nervous or upset, rather that it becomes more steady.
  • In a pitying, quavery voice a shopper asks, ‘Do you want me to help you find the door?’


late Middle English (as a verb in the general sense 'tremble'): from dialect quave 'quake, tremble', probably from an Old English word related to quake. The noun is first recorded (mid 16th century) as a musical term.

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Word of the day coloratura
Pronunciation: ˌkɒlərəˈtjʊərə
elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody