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See more synonyms for hum on Thesaurus.com
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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  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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  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


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

Related Words

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 hummed

Historical Examples

  • It whirled, hummed in the air, and then cracked on the shoulders of Andrew.

    Way of the Lawless

    Max Brand

  • "I'm twenty-one and she's eighteen," hummed the ward under its breath.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • She did not answer, but hummed a little tune and looked up at the tree-tops.

  • I have carried it about in my pocket and hummed it over all day.

  • Gervaise, with her head spinning from too much drink, hummed the refrain with him.


    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for hummed


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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  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

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 hummed



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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

hummed in Medicine


  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.