[sou, suhf]

verb (used without object)

to make a rushing, rustling, or murmuring sound: the wind soughing in the meadow.
Scot. and North England. to speak, especially to preach, in a whining, singsong voice.


a sighing, rustling, or murmuring sound.
Scot. and North England.
  1. a sigh or deep breath.
  2. a whining, singsong manner of speaking.
  3. a rumor; unconfirmed report.

Origin of sough

before 900; (v.) Middle English swoghen, Old English swōgan to make a noise; cognate with Old Saxon swōgan, Old English swēgan, Gothic -swōgjan; (noun) Middle English swow, swo(u)gh, derivative of the v.
Related formssough·ful·ly, adverbsough·less, adjective


[suhf, sou]British


drain; drainage ditch, gutter, or sewer.
a swampy or marshy area.

verb (used with object)

to drain (land or a mine) by building drainage ditches or the like.
Also especially Scot., sugh.

Origin of sough

1250–1300; Middle English sogh, sohn < ?; compare Dutch (dial.) zoeg little ditch Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sough

Historical Examples of sough

  • The old man doubtless wanted a sough of peace in his own home.

    An Orkney Maid

    Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

  • Naught was heard save the droning of the students and the sough of the wind in the forest.

  • The sough of the calm sea could not reach so far; the flies were few; no bird sang.


    John Galsworthy

  • If there's a' sough o' cholera,Or typhus,—wha sae gleg as she?

  • He could hear the sough of the sea on the beach, far down below him.

    Washed Ashore

    W.H.G. Kingston

British Dictionary definitions for sough




(intr) (esp of the wind) to make a characteristic sighing sound


a soft continuous murmuring sound

Word Origin for sough

Old English swōgan to resound; related to Gothic gaswogjan to groan, Lithuanian svageti to sound, Latin vāgīre to lament




Northern English dialect a sewer or drain or an outlet channel

Word Origin for sough

of obscure origin
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 sough

"to make a moaning or murmuring sound," Old English swogan "to sound, roar, howl, rustle, whistle," from Proto-Germanic *swoganan (cf. Old Saxon swogan "to rustle," Gothic gaswogjan "to sigh"), from PIE imitative root *(s)wagh- (cf. Greek echo, Latin vagire "to cry, roar, sound"). The noun is late 14c., from the verb.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper