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whisper

[hwis-per, wis-per]
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verb (used without object)
  1. to speak with soft, hushed sounds, using the breath, lips, etc., but with no vibration of the vocal cords.
  2. Phonetics. to produce utterance substituting breath for phonation.
  3. to talk softly and privately (often implying gossip, slander, plotting, or the like): The king knew that the courtiers were whispering.
  4. (of trees, water, breezes, etc.) to make a soft, rustling sound like that of whispering.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to utter with soft, low sounds, using the breath, lips, etc.: He whispered endearments to her.
  2. Phonetics. to utter (speech sounds) substituting breath for phonation.
  3. to say or tell in a whisper; tell privately.
  4. to speak to or tell (a person) in a whisper or privately.
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noun
  1. the mode of utterance, or the voice, of a person who whispers: to speak in a whisper.
  2. a word or remark uttered by whispering.
  3. a rumor or insinuation: Whispers circulated about the affair.
  4. a soft, rustling sound like a whisper: the whisper of leaves in the wind.
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Origin of whisper

before 950; Middle English whisperen (v.), Old English hwisprian; cognate with German wispern; akin to Old Norse hviskra to whisper, hvīsla to whistle. See whine
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

hintinnuendosighmurmurbuzzgossipbreathshadowwhiffsuspicionhissmutterconfidemumbledisclosureconfidencewordinsinuationsusurrationhum

Examples from the Web for whisper

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • She heard him speaking in a voice not louder than a whisper, rapid, distinct.

  • It was no louder than a whisper from without—the creak of a board.

  • There was a monotone of desolation as she went on speaking in a whisper meant for the ears of no other.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Her voice was little more than a whisper, but it was loud in the listener's heart.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • His tone was hardly louder than a whisper, but spoken with great distinctness.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana


British Dictionary definitions for whisper

whisper

verb
  1. to speak or utter (something) in a soft hushed tone, esp without vibration of the vocal cords
  2. (intr) to speak secretly or furtively, as in promoting intrigue, gossip, etc
  3. (intr) (of leaves, trees, etc) to make a low soft rustling sound
  4. (tr) to utter or suggest secretly or privatelyto whisper treason
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noun
  1. a low soft voiceto speak in a whisper
  2. something uttered in such a voice
  3. a low soft rustling sound
  4. a trace or suspicion
  5. informal a rumour or secret
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Word Origin

Old English hwisprian; related to Old Norse hvīskra, Old High German hwispalōn, Dutch wispern
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 whisper

v.

Old English hwisprian "speak very softly" (only in a Northumbrian gloss for Latin murmurare), from Proto-Germanic *khwis- (cf. Middle Dutch wispelen, Old High German hwispalon, German wispeln, wispern, Old Norse hviskra "to whisper"), imitative and probably related to Old English hwistlian "to whistle." Related: Whispered; whispering. The noun is from 1590s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with whisper

whisper

see stage whisper.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.