[ kwey-ver ]
See synonyms for: quaverquavering on Thesaurus.com

verb (used without object)
  1. to shake tremulously; quiver or tremble: He stood there quavering with fear.

  2. to sound, speak, or sing tremulously: Her voice quavered a moment and then she regained control.

  1. to perform trills in singing or on a musical instrument.

verb (used with object)
  1. to utter, say, or sing with a quavering or tremulous voice.

  1. a quavering or tremulous shake, especially in the voice.

  2. a quavering tone or utterance.

  1. Music (chiefly British). an eighth note.

Origin of quaver

1400–50; late Middle English quaveren (v.), blend of quake and waver1

Other words from quaver

  • qua·ver·er, noun
  • qua·ver·ing·ly, adverb
  • qua·ver·y, qua·ver·ous, adjective
  • un·qua·ver·ing, adjective

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

How to use quaver in a sentence

  • When Bardas led him within, he heard the princess's little wind-organ throbbing and quavering.

    God Wills It! | William Stearns Davis
  • "I don't know what you mean," said Mr. Milburgh in a quavering voice.

    The Daffodil Mystery | Edgar Wallace
  • He shook so much that his signature was only a quavering line.

    The Planet Strappers | Raymond Zinke Gallun
  • Her voice was choked as she went on—was quavering as with the contemplation of some strange, yet closely-present idea.

    North and South | Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

British Dictionary definitions for quaver


/ (ˈkweɪvə) /

  1. to say or sing (something) with a trembling voice

  2. (intr) (esp of the voice) to quiver, tremble, or shake

  1. (intr) rare to sing or play quavers or ornamental trills

  1. music a note having the time value of an eighth of a semibreve: Usual US and Canadian name: eighth note

  2. a tremulous sound or note

Origin of quaver

C15 (in the sense: to vibrate, quiver 1): from quaven to tremble, of Germanic origin; compare Low German quabbeln to tremble

Derived forms of quaver

  • quaverer, noun
  • quavering, adjective
  • quaveringly, adverb
  • quavery, adjective

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