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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.
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Examples from the Web for quavered
Historical Examples
  • They were scarcely out of sight of the cabin when some distance behind them quavered a long high-pitched yell.

    Beyond the Black River Robert E. Howard
  • "I—I didn't come to get us adopted this time," she quavered.

    An Australian Lassie Lilian Turner
  • "That is, of course, supposing the story to be true," quavered the old lord.

  • "I was just talking of you, Jacintha," quavered Dard in conclusion.

    White Lies Charles Reade
  • "Yes, sir," she quavered, while her husband's arm encircled her shoulders in courtly fashion.

    Murder at Bridge Anne Austin
  • "I'm—I'm—not carrying a watch or a purse to-night," quavered Mr. Leary.

    The Life of the Party Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb
  • A sound as of many voices wailing in agony rose and trembled and quavered in the air.

    The Witch of Prague F. Marion Crawford
  • "You see how it—how it made me look, mama," she quavered, having concluded her narrative.

    Alice Adams Booth Tarkington
  • "I am not at all nervous," I quavered as he went down the steps.

    Affinities and Other Stories Mary Roberts Rinehard
  • Henriette endeavored to comfort them, but it was in a voice that quavered strangely.

    The Downfall Emile Zola
British Dictionary definitions for quavered


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
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Word Origin and History for quavered



"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
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