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[sing] /sɪŋ/
verb (used without object), sang or, often sung; sung; singing.
to utter words or sounds in succession with musical modulations of the voice; vocalize melodically.
to perform a song or voice composition:
She promised to sing for us.
to produce melodious sounds, usually high in pitch, as certain birds, insects, etc.:
The nightingale sang in the tree.
to compose poetry:
Keats sang briefly but gloriously.
to tell about or praise someone or something in verse or song:
He sang of the warrior's prowess.
to admit of being sung, as verses:
This lyric sings well.
to give out a continuous ringing, whistling, murmuring, burbling, or other euphonious sound, as a teakettle or a brook.
to make a short whistling, ringing, or whizzing sound:
The bullet sang past his ear.
(of an electrical amplifying system) to produce an undesired self-sustained oscillation.
to have the sensation of a ringing or humming sound, as the ears.
Slang. to confess or act as an informer; squeal.
verb (used with object), sang or, often sung; sung; singing.
to utter with musical modulations of the voice, as a song.
to escort or accompany with singing.
to proclaim enthusiastically.
to bring, send, put, etc., with or by singing:
She sang the baby to sleep.
to chant or intone:
to sing mass.
to tell or praise in verse or song.
the act or performance of singing.
a gathering or meeting of persons for the purpose of singing:
a community sing.
a singing, ringing, or whistling sound, as of a bullet.
Verb phrases
sing out, Informal. to call in a loud voice; shout:
They lost their way in the cavern and sang out for help.
Origin of sing
before 900; Middle English singen, Old English singan; cognate with Dutch zingen, German singen, Old Norse syngva, Gothic siggwan
Related forms
singable, adjective
singability, singableness, noun
singingly, adverb
missing, verb, missang, missung, missinging.
unsingable, adjective
Can be confused
sign, sing (see synonym study at sign)
singeing, singing. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for singing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Let us mount, and surprise these singing witches," said Edouard.

    White Lies Charles Reade
  • Our Verdon woods echo with laughter; and singing is heard beside the brook.

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • He would rise at midnight to pass into the chapel for the singing of matins.

    How France Built Her Cathedrals Elizabeth Boyle O'Reilly
  • He sat out-doors with the others and smoked and joined weakly in the singing.

    Stanford Stories Charles K. Field
  • There are, at least, three distinct specialties of the singing teacher.

    Seed Thoughts for Singers Frank Herbert Tubbs
British Dictionary definitions for singing


verb sings, singing, sang, sung
to produce or articulate (sounds, words, a song, etc) with definite and usually specific musical intonation
when intr, often foll by to. to perform (a song) to the accompaniment (of): to sing to a guitar
(intransitive) foll by of. to tell a story or tale in song (about): I sing of a maiden
(intransitive) foll by to. to address a song (to) or perform a song (for)
(intransitive) to perform songs for a living, as a professional singer
(intransitive) (esp of certain birds and insects) to utter calls or sounds reminiscent of music
when intr, usually foll by of. to tell (something) or give praise (to someone), esp in verse: the poet who sings of the Trojan dead
(intransitive) to make a whining, ringing, or whistling sound: the kettle is singing, the arrow sang past his ear
(intransitive) (of the ears) to experience a continuous ringing or humming sound
(transitive) (esp in church services) to chant or intone (a prayer, psalm, etc)
(transitive) to bring to a given state by singing: to sing a child to sleep
(intransitive) (slang, mainly US) to confess or act as an informer
(intransitive) (Austral) (in Aboriginal witchcraft) to bring about a person's death by incantation. The same power can sometimes be used beneficently
(informal) an act or performance of singing
a ringing or whizzing sound, as of bullets
See also sing along, sing out
Derived Forms
singable, adjective
singing, adjective, noun
Word Origin
Old English singan; related to Old Norse syngja to sing, Gothic siggwan, Old High German singan
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 singing



Old English singan "to chant, sing, celebrate, or tell in song," also used of birds (class III strong verb; past tense sang, past participle sungen), from Proto-Germanic *sengwan (cf. Old Saxon singan, Old Frisian sionga, Middle Dutch singhen, Dutch zingen, Old High German singan, German singen, Gothic siggwan, Old Norse syngva, Swedish sjunga), from PIE root *sengwh- "to sing, make an incantation." The criminal slang sense of "to confess to authorities" is attested from 1610s.

No related forms in other languages, unless perhaps it is connected to Greek omphe "voice" (especially of a god), "oracle;" and Welsh dehongli "explain, interpret." The typical Indo-European root is represented by Latin canere (see chant (v.)). Other words meaning "sing" derive from roots meaning "cry, shout," but Irish gaibim is literally "take, seize," with sense evolution via "take up" a song or melody.


"act of singing," especially collective, 1850, from sing (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for singing



To inform; incriminate oneself and others; squeal: Vice Prisoners Ready To Sing

Related Terms

hear the birdies sing, the opera ain't over till the fat lady sings

[1710+ Underworld; perhaps related to the expression a little bird told me; a variant, chant, is found by 1883]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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