making a droning sound; buzzing.
very busy; briskly active: a humming office.

Nearby words

  1. humism,
  2. humiture,
  3. hummable,
  4. hummel,
  5. hummer,
  6. humming top,
  7. hummingbird,
  8. hummingbird moth,
  9. hummingly,
  10. hummock

Origin of humming

First recorded in 1570–80; hum + -ing2

Related formshum·ming·ly, adverb



verb (used without object), hummed, hum·ming.

to make a low, continuous, droning sound.
to give forth an indistinct sound of mingled voices or noises.
to utter an indistinct sound in hesitation, embarrassment, dissatisfaction, etc.; hem.
to sing with closed lips, without articulating words.
to be in a state of busy activity: The household hummed in preparation for the wedding.
British Slang. to have a bad odor, as of stale perspiration.

verb (used with object), hummed, hum·ming.

to sound, sing, or utter by humming: to hum a tune.
to bring, put, etc., by humming: to hum a child to sleep.


the act or sound of humming; an inarticulate or indistinct murmur; hem.
Audio. an unwanted low-frequency sound caused by power-line frequencies in any audio component.


(an inarticulate sound uttered in contemplation, hesitation, dissatisfaction, doubt, etc.)

Origin of hum

1300–50; Middle English; ultimately imitative; cognate with German hummen to hum; cf. humblebee

Related formsun·der·hum, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for humming

British Dictionary definitions for humming


verb hums, humming or hummed

(intr) to make a low continuous vibrating sound like that of a prolonged m
(intr) (of a person) to sing with the lips closed
(intr) to utter an indistinct sound, as in hesitation; hem
(intr) informal to be in a state of feverish activity
(intr) British and Irish slang to smell unpleasant
(intr) Australian slang to scrounge
hum and haw See hem 2 (def. 3)


a low continuous murmuring sound
electronics an undesired low-frequency noise in the output of an amplifier or receiver, esp one caused by the power supply
Australian slang a scrounger; cadger
British and Irish slang an unpleasant odour

interjection, noun

an indistinct sound of hesitation, embarrassment, etc; hem
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 humming
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for humming




A low, continuous murmur blended of many sounds.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.