Try Our Apps
Dictionary.com

follow Dictionary.com

2017 Word of the Year

hum

[huhm] /hʌm/
verb (used without object), hummed, humming.
1.
to make a low, continuous, droning sound.
2.
to give forth an indistinct sound of mingled voices or noises.
3.
to utter an indistinct sound in hesitation, embarrassment, dissatisfaction, etc.; hem.
4.
to sing with closed lips, without articulating words.
5.
to be in a state of busy activity:
The household hummed in preparation for the wedding.
6.
British Slang. to have a bad odor, as of stale perspiration.
verb (used with object), hummed, humming.
7.
to sound, sing, or utter by humming:
to hum a tune.
8.
to bring, put, etc., by humming:
to hum a child to sleep.
noun
9.
the act or sound of humming; an inarticulate or indistinct murmur; hem.
10.
Audio. an unwanted low-frequency sound caused by power-line frequencies in any audio component.
interjection
11.
(an inarticulate sound uttered in contemplation, hesitation, dissatisfaction, doubt, etc.)
Origin of hum
1300-1350
1300-50; Middle English; ultimately imitative; cognate with German hummen to hum; cf. humblebee
Related forms
underhum, noun
Synonyms
5. bustle, buzz.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for hum
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "hum," remarked Uncle Peter, in a tone to be noticed for its extreme dryness.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • He heard the hum and clang of an electric car off through a chestnut grove.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • I don't quite think myself a lady-killer: by George, my—hum!

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • The Sunday landscape was very still, save for the hum of busy insect life.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • The bystanders did, and a hum of curiosity circled round; who could they be?

    Night and Morning, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
British Dictionary definitions for hum

hum

/hʌm/
verb hums, humming, hummed
1.
(intransitive) to make a low continuous vibrating sound like that of a prolonged m
2.
(intransitive) (of a person) to sing with the lips closed
3.
(intransitive) to utter an indistinct sound, as in hesitation; hem
4.
(intransitive) (informal) to be in a state of feverish activity
5.
(intransitive) (Brit & Irish, slang) to smell unpleasant
6.
(intransitive) (Austral, slang) to scrounge
7.
hum and haw, See hem2 (sense 3)
noun
8.
a low continuous murmuring sound
9.
(electronics) an undesired low-frequency noise in the output of an amplifier or receiver, esp one caused by the power supply
10.
(Austral, slang) a scrounger; cadger
11.
(Brit & Irish, slang) an unpleasant odour
interjection, noun
12.
an indistinct sound of hesitation, embarrassment, etc; hem
Derived Forms
hummer, noun
Word Origin
C14: of imitative origin; compare Dutch hommelen, Old High German humbal bumblebee
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for hum
v.

late 14c., hommen "make a murmuring sound to cover embarrassment," later hummen "to buzz, drone" (early 15c.), probably of imitative origin. Sense of "sing with closed lips" is first attested late 15c.; that of "be busy and active" is 1884, perhaps on analogy of a beehive. Related: Hummed; humming. Humming-bird (1630s) so called from sound made by the rapid vibration of its wings.

There is a curious bird to see to, called a humming bird, no bigger then a great Beetle. [Thomas Morton, "New English Canaan," 1637]

n.

mid-15c., from hum (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
hum in Medicine

hum (hŭm)
n.
A low, continuous murmur blended of many sounds.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for hum

Word Value for hum

8
9
Scrabble Words With Friends