[ mur-muh-rey-shuhn ]
/ ˌmɜr məˈreɪ ʃən /
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an act or instance of murmuring.
a flock of starlings.
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Origin of murmuration

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Middle French murmuration, from Latin murmurātiōn-, stem of murmurātiō; see origin at murmur, -ation

Words nearby murmuration

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does murmuration mean?

Murmuration is the act or an instance of murmuring—making a continuous, low, and indistinct sound.

Such a sound can be called a murmur. Examples include the sound of water in a stream, the wind through the trees, and the low, muffled sound of a TV in another room.

This is the way the word is used in the phrase the murmur of the crowd, which refers to the collective sound of a lot of people talking at once. (In contrast, the roar of the crowd refers to collective cheering and is much louder.) In this case, murmuration could refer to the sound being made or the action of the people making it.

Murmur also means to say something in a low tone that can’t be easily understood, especially to complain in such a way, but murmuration isn’t typically used in this sense.

Murmuration is also a fanciful name for a flock of starlings (similar to other names for groups of birds and animals, like a murder of crows).

Example: The endless murmuration of the creek was as good as a lullaby, soothing me to sleep.

Where does murmuration come from?

The first records of the word murmuration come from the 1300s. It derives from the Latin word murmurāre, meaning “to mutter,” “to make a gentle sound,” “to roar,” or “to grumble.” The word murmur is thought to be based on onomatopoeia, which is the formation of a word by imitation of a sound.

In other words, murmur sounds like the thing it describes. When the people in a crowd all talk at the same time, you don’t hear the individual voices or conversations. Instead, you can only hear the murmur—the indistinct, collective chatter of all those voices combined. If you tried to imitate that sound, it may sound a bit like murmurmurmurmurmur.

The use of the word murmuration as a collective name for a flock of starlings may be due to the fact that the birds are known for making a variety of noises and for being somewhat noisy when flocking together. The word is sometimes specifically used to refer to flocks of starlings when they’re in flight  and are moving together in a way that forms beautifully changing shapes, much like a school of fish.

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What are some other forms of murmuration?

What are some synonyms for murmuration?

What are some words that share a root or word element with murmuration

What are some words that often get used in discussing murmuration?


How is murmuration used in real life?

Murmuration is used in the context of crowd noise or other low and indistinct sounds.



Try using murmuration!

Which of the following words is a synonym of murmuration?

A. hum
B. muttering
C. buzz
D. all of the above

How to use murmuration in a sentence