Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[kwey-ver] /ˈkweɪ vər/
verb (used without object)
to shake tremulously; quiver or tremble:
He stood there quavering with fear.
to sound, speak, or sing tremulously:
Her voice quavered a moment and then she regained control.
to perform trills in singing or on a musical instrument.
verb (used with object)
to utter, say, or sing with a quavering or tremulous voice.
a quavering or tremulous shake, especially in the voice.
a quavering tone or utterance.
Music (chiefly British) . an eighth note.
Origin of quaver
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English quaveren (v.), blend of quake and waver1
Related forms
quaverer, noun
quaveringly, adverb
quavery, quaverous, adjective
unquavering, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for quaver
Historical Examples
  • Without a quaver from that crisis of despair in which she must have learned to say it.

  • “Dear little Lydia,” she murmured, with a quaver in her voice.

    The Squirrel-Cage Dorothy Canfield
  • The movement must be slow, for there are arpeggios of eight notes to the quaver beat in the guitar part.

    Nicolo Paganini: His Life and Work Stephen Samuel Stratton
  • What possessed that unlucky voice of mine to quaver in the way it did?

    My Friend Smith Talbot Baines Reed
  • There was not a quaver in Lady Splay's voice, not a sign of agitation in her manner.

    The Summons A.E.W. Mason
  • "Well, something of that sort," Villon admitted, with a quaver.

  • She was rigid and erect, but she could not keep the quaver out of her voice.

    The Ranchman Charles Alden Seltzer
  • "One thousand and three hundred," said Ayoub with a quaver of uneasy defiance.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • Clancy thought that there was more than that in it, that there was the quaver that indicates panic.

    Find the Woman Arthur Somers Roche
  • Mr. quaver led, and the choir followed like sheep, all in their own way and fashion.

    Winning His Way Charles Carleton Coffin
British Dictionary definitions for quaver


to say or sing (something) with a trembling voice
(intransitive) (esp of the voice) to quiver, tremble, or shake
(intransitive) (rare) to sing or play quavers or ornamental trills
(music) a note having the time value of an eighth of a semibreve Usual US and Canadian name eighth note
a tremulous sound or note
Derived Forms
quaverer, noun
quavering, adjective
quaveringly, adverb
quavery, adjective
Word Origin
C15 (in the sense: to vibrate, quiver1): from quaven to tremble, of Germanic origin; compare Low German quabbeln to tremble
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 quaver

"to vibrate, tremble," early 15c., probably a frequentative of cwavien "to tremble, shake" (early 13c.), which probably is related to Low German quabbeln "tremble," and possibly of imitative origin. Meaning "sing in trills or quavers" first recorded 1530s. Related: Quavered; quavering.


1560s, in music, "eighth note," from quaver (v.). Meaning "a tremble in the voice" is from 1748.


1560s, in music, "eighth note," from quaver (v.). Meaning "a tremble in the voice" is from 1748.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for quaver

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for quaver

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for quaver