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hum

[huhm]
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verb (used without object), hummed, hum·ming.
  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.
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verb (used with object), hummed, hum·ming.
  1. to sound, sing, or utter by humming: to hum a tune.
  2. to bring, put, etc., by humming: to hum a child to sleep.
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noun
  1. the act or sound of humming; an inarticulate or indistinct murmur; hem.
  2. Audio. an unwanted low-frequency sound caused by power-line frequencies in any audio component.
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interjection
  1. (an inarticulate sound uttered in contemplation, hesitation, dissatisfaction, doubt, etc.)
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Origin of hum

1300–50; Middle English; ultimately imitative; cognate with German hummen to hum; cf. humblebee
Related formsun·der·hum, noun

Synonyms for hum

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for hum

purr, strum, moan, throb, whisper, warble, croon, murmur, sing, mumble, trill, sound, bumble, rustle, zoom, drone, bum, whir, bombinate, thrum

Examples from the Web for hum

Contemporary Examples of hum

Historical Examples of hum

  • "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

verb hums, humming or hummed
  1. (intr) to make a low continuous vibrating sound like that of a prolonged m
  2. (intr) (of a person) to sing with the lips closed
  3. (intr) to utter an indistinct sound, as in hesitation; hem
  4. (intr) informal to be in a state of feverish activity
  5. (intr) British and Irish slang to smell unpleasant
  6. (intr) Australian slang to scrounge
  7. hum and haw See hem 2 (def. 3)
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noun
  1. a low continuous murmuring sound
  2. electronics an undesired low-frequency noise in the output of an amplifier or receiver, esp one caused by the power supply
  3. Australian slang a scrounger; cadger
  4. British and Irish slang an unpleasant odour
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interjection, noun
  1. an indistinct sound of hesitation, embarrassment, etc; hem
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Derived Formshummer, noun

Word Origin for hum

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

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]
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n.

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

hum in Medicine

hum

(hŭm)
n.
  1. A low, continuous murmur blended of many sounds.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.