AskDefine | Define whispering

The Collaborative Dictionary

Whispering \Whis"per*ing\, a. & n. from Whisper. v. t. [1913 Webster] Whispering gallery, or Whispering dome, one of such a form that sounds produced in certain parts of it are concentrated by reflection from the walls to another part, so that whispers or feeble sounds are audible at a much greater distance than under ordinary circumstances. The dome of the U. S. capitol building is one example. [1913 Webster +PJC]
Whisper \Whis"per\, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Whispered; p. pr. & vb. n. Whispering.] [AS. hwisprian; akin to G. wispern, wispeln, OHG. hwispal?n, Icel. hv[imac]skra, Sw. hviska, Dan. hviske; of imitative origin. Cf. Whistle.] [1913 Webster]
To speak softly, or under the breath, so as to be heard only by one near at hand; to utter words without sonant breath; to talk without that vibration in the larynx which gives sonorous, or vocal, sound. See Whisper, n. [1913 Webster]
To make a low, sibilant sound or noise. [1913 Webster] The hollow, whispering breeze. --Thomson. [1913 Webster]
To speak with suspicion, or timorous caution; to converse in whispers, as in secret plotting. [1913 Webster] All that hate me whisper together against me. --Ps. xli.
[1913 Webster]

Word Net

whispering adj : making a low continuous indistinct sound; "like murmuring waves"; "susurrant voices" [syn: murmuring, susurrant]


1 the light noise like the noise of silk clothing or leaves blowing in the wind [syn: rustle, rustling, whisper]
2 speaking softly without vibration of the vocal cords [syn: whisper, susurration]



Verb form



  1. that whispers
  2. associated with whispers

Derived terms


  1. Something that is whispered; gossip; a rumor.
Whispering is an unvoiced mode of phonation in which the vocal cords do not vibrate normally, but are instead adducted sufficiently to create audible turbulence (a 'hissing' quality) as the speaker exhales (or occasionally inhales) during speech. This is a somewhat greater adduction than that found in breathy voice. Articulation remains the same as in normal speech.
In normal English speech, the vocal cords alternate between states of voice and voicelessness. In whispering, only the voicing changes, so that the vocal cords alternate between whisper and voicelessness (though the acoustic difference between the two states is minimal).
There is no symbol in the IPA for whispered phonation, since it is not used phonemicly in any language. However, a sub-dot under phonemically voiced segments is sometimes seen in the literature, as [ʃʊ̣ḍ] for whispered should.

Social role of whispering

Whispering is generally used quietly, to limit the hearing of speech to listeners who are nearby; for example, to convey secret information without being overheard, or to avoid disturbing others in a quiet place such as a library or place of worship. Loud whispering, known as a stage whisper, is generally only used for dramatic or emphatic purposes. Whispering also takes less effort to vocalize than a normal speech pattern. This is because less air needs to be used to vocalize the sound. However, while it takes less effort to produce a whisper, it tires out the vocal cords more quickly. The whispering voice should not be used when one has fully or partially lost ones voice for this reason.
whispering in Breton: Komz chuchumuchu
whispering in Czech: Šeptání
whispering in German: Flüstern
whispering in French: Voix basse
whispering in Dutch: Fluisteren
whispering in Swedish: Viska
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