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whisper

Syllabification: whis·per
Pronunciation: /ˈ(h)wispər
 
/

Definition of whisper in English:

verb

[no object]
1Speak very softly using one’s breath without one’s vocal cords, especially for the sake of privacy: Alison was whispering in his ear [with object]: he managed to whisper a faint goodbye [with direct speech]: “Are you all right?” he whispered
More example sentences
  • She can speak English but prefers to whisper in my ear rather than talking out loud in the noisy bar area.
  • Gaffle raised a hand to Pintom's ear and whispered a short conversation.
  • His eyes dart around and he whispers as he speaks as if what he's telling me is top secret.
Synonyms
murmur, mutter, mumble, speak softly, breathe;
hiss
literary susurrate
1.1 literary (Of leaves, wind, or water) rustle or murmur softly.
Example sentences
  • Roots burrow under my feet and leaves whisper to each other from opposite sides of the valley.
  • The flowers swayed in the breeze and the grass and leaves whispered with them.
  • The wind was whispering quietly in the trees, which were illuminated by a half hidden full moon.
Synonyms
1.2 (be whispered) Be rumored: it was whispered that he would soon die
More example sentences
  • When the original SMiLE sessions were taking place, it was whispered that the material was far too bizarre to be released.
  • It was whispered that government research continued at a nearby secret mountain complex where Special Ops field agents were trained.
  • Still, it was whispered that she had the gift of second sight.

noun

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1A soft or confidential tone of voice; a whispered word or phrase: she spoke in a whisper
More example sentences
  • Her voice was barely a whisper but the words echoed in her head like a jackhammer.
  • His voice was a whisper, the words forced out in one breath.
  • She touched the ruby lightly as she spoke, her voice nearing a whisper with every word spoken.
Synonyms
literary susurration
1.1 literary A soft rustling or murmuring sound: the thunder of the surf became a muted whisper
More example sentences
  • For a while the only sound was the hushed whisper of the passing river.
  • The only sound is the faint whisper of the air-conditioning.
  • There was no sound besides the light whisper of the breeze.
Synonyms
rustle, murmur, sigh, whoosh, swish
1.2A rumor or piece of gossip: whispers of a blossoming romance
More example sentences
  • So there are hints, whispers, rumours, emails and questions but, significantly, no answers.
  • So, once again, we're into the world of whispers and sources, rumours, winks and knowing nods.
  • There was a rumour, a whisper, of a deeper malaise in the state.
Synonyms
rumor, story, report, speculation, insinuation, suggestion, hint
informal buzz
1.3 [usually in singular] A slight trace; a hint: he didn’t show even a whisper of interest
More example sentences
  • There was a whisper of TV interest from a ‘major UK network’ today.
  • It carries a hint of greed and a whisper of skulduggery.
  • When not a whisper of a reply came I reached out and gently touched her cheek.

Origin

Old English hwisprian, of Germanic origin; related to German wispeln, from the imitative base of whistle.

More
  • whistle from (Old English):

    The first meaning of whistle was ‘a small pipe or flute’. Its origin seems to lie in imitation, for it mimics the physical process of whistling. Whisper (Old English) comes from the same root. In wet your whistle, or have a drink, the whistle is your mouth or throat. The first example of its use is by Geoffrey Chaucer in The Reeve's Tale. To blow the whistle on someone responsible for doing something wrong is to inform on them. The expression comes from a referee blowing a whistle to indicate that a player has broken the rules. When first used in the 1930s it meant ‘bring to an abrupt halt’, but by the 1970s it had come to refer specifically to people exposing wrongdoing in government or industry. In the 1930s a whistle-stop was a small American town on a railway. If a passenger wanted to get off the conductor would sound a whistle to tell the driver he had to stop. A whistle-stop tour was one made by a politician before an election that took in even these obscure places.

Derivatives

whispery

1
adjective
Example sentences
  • Stina Nordenstam doesn't play live, barely does interviews, generally resists being photographed and sings in a small, whispery voice that sounds as if it's escaping between bouts of sobbing.
  • At Bangalore, there are moments when Knopfler's guttural whispery vocals, particularly when the score demands a softer tone, seem to be drowned out by the percussion and strings.
  • Lead guitar and vocalist Andrew Kenny, has a relaxed and often whispery quality on the mic that is a perfect compliment to AMS's sound.

Words that rhyme with whisper

crisper

Definition of whisper in:

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