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See more synonyms for hissing on Thesaurus.com
  1. the act of emitting a hiss.
  2. the sound of a hiss.
  3. Archaic. an occasion or object of scorn.
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Origin of hissing

Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400; see origin at hiss, -ing1


verb (used without object)
  1. to make or emit a sharp sound like that of the letter s prolonged, as a snake does, or as steam does when forced under pressure through a small opening.
  2. to express disapproval or contempt by making this sound: The audience hissed when the actor forgot his lines.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to express disapproval of by hissing: The audience hissed the controversial play.
  2. to silence or drive away by hissing (usually followed by away, down, etc.): They hissed down the author when he tried to speak.
  3. to utter with a hiss.
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  1. a hissing sound, especially one made in disapproval.
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Origin of hiss

1350–1400; Middle English hissen; probably imitative; compare Old English hyscan to jeer at, rail (derivative of husc jeering; cognate with Old Saxon, Old High German hosc)
Related formshiss·er, nounhiss·ing·ly, adverbout·hiss, verb (used with object)un·hissed, adjective


See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
2, 4. boo, razz, heckle.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

spit, whisper, jeer, hoot, whistle, seethe, boo, wheeze, whirr, blow, revile, sibilate, disapprove, deride, decry, whiz, mock, rasp, damn, catcall

Examples from the Web for hissing

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for hissing


  1. a voiceless fricative sound like that of a prolonged s
  2. such a sound uttered as an exclamation of derision, contempt, etc, esp by an audience or crowd
  3. electronics receiver noise with a continuous spectrum, caused by thermal agitation, shot noise, etc
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  1. an exclamation of derision or disapproval
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  1. (intr) to produce or utter a hiss
  2. (tr) to express with a hiss, usually to indicate derision or anger
  3. (tr) to show derision or anger towards (a speaker, performer, etc) by hissing
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Derived Formshisser, noun

Word Origin

C14: of imitative origin


  1. Alger. 1904–96, US government official: imprisoned (1950–54) for perjury in connection with alleged espionage activities
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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

Word Origin and History for hissing


late 14c., hissyng, of imitative origin (see hiss (v.)), but originally also "whistling." In both senses expressing opprobrium.

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late 14c., of imitative origin. Johnson wrote, "it is remarkable, that this word cannot be pronounced without making the noise which it signifies." Related: Hissed; hissing.

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1510s, from hiss (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper