Origin of sing

before 900; Middle English singen, Old English singan; cognate with Dutch zingen, German singen, Old Norse syngva, Gothic siggwan
Related formssing·a·ble, adjectivesing·a·bil·i·ty, sing·a·ble·ness, nounsing·ing·ly, adverbmis·sing, verb, mis·sang, mis·sung, mis·sing·ing.un·sing·a·ble, adjective
Can be confusedsign singsingeing singing
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for singing

carol, song

Examples from the Web for singing

Contemporary Examples of singing

Historical Examples of singing

  • Her singing especially seemed to enchant and fascinate the girl.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • Several times she dressed the child, singing to him all the time.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • Never was I in such a noisy, roystering, singing, lounging place.

    The Roof of France

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • Then boys and girls enter dancing and singing a harvest song.

    Apu Ollantay


  • "That is the Pawnees, singing their travel song," said the Buffalo Chief.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

British Dictionary definitions for singing


verb sings, singing, sang or sung

to produce or articulate (sounds, words, a song, etc) with definite and usually specific musical intonation
(when intr, often foll by to) to perform (a song) to the accompaniment (of)to sing to a guitar
(intr foll by of) to tell a story or tale in song (about)I sing of a maiden
(intr foll by to) to address a song (to) or perform a song (for)
(intr) to perform songs for a living, as a professional singer
(intr) (esp of certain birds and insects) to utter calls or sounds reminiscent of music
(when intr, usually foll by of) to tell (something) or give praise (to someone), esp in versethe poet who sings of the Trojan dead
(intr) to make a whining, ringing, or whistling soundthe kettle is singing; the arrow sang past his ear
(intr) (of the ears) to experience a continuous ringing or humming sound
(tr) (esp in church services) to chant or intone (a prayer, psalm, etc)
(tr) to bring to a given state by singingto sing a child to sleep
(intr) slang, mainly US to confess or act as an informer
(intr) Australian (in Aboriginal witchcraft) to bring about a person's death by incantation. The same power can sometimes be used beneficently


informal an act or performance of singing
a ringing or whizzing sound, as of bullets
Derived Formssingable, adjectivesinging, adjective, noun

Word Origin for sing

Old English singan; related to Old Norse syngja to sing, Gothic siggwan, Old High German singan


See ring 2
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 singing



Old English singan "to chant, sing, celebrate, or tell in song," also used of birds (class III strong verb; past tense sang, past participle sungen), from Proto-Germanic *sengwan (cf. Old Saxon singan, Old Frisian sionga, Middle Dutch singhen, Dutch zingen, Old High German singan, German singen, Gothic siggwan, Old Norse syngva, Swedish sjunga), from PIE root *sengwh- "to sing, make an incantation." The criminal slang sense of "to confess to authorities" is attested from 1610s.

No related forms in other languages, unless perhaps it is connected to Greek omphe "voice" (especially of a god), "oracle;" and Welsh dehongli "explain, interpret." The typical Indo-European root is represented by Latin canere (see chant (v.)). Other words meaning "sing" derive from roots meaning "cry, shout," but Irish gaibim is literally "take, seize," with sense evolution via "take up" a song or melody.



"act of singing," especially collective, 1850, from sing (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper