Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Soft speech produced without full voice.
  • n. Something uttered very softly.
  • n. A secretly or surreptitiously expressed belief, rumor, or hint: whispers of scandal.
  • n. A low rustling sound: the whisper of wind in the pines.
  • intransitive v. To speak softly.
  • intransitive v. To speak quietly and privately, as by way of gossip, slander, or intrigue.
  • intransitive v. To make a soft rustling sound.
  • transitive v. To utter very softly.
  • transitive v. To say or tell privately or secretly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The act of speaking in a quiet voice, especially, without vibration of the vocal cords.
  • n. A rumor.
  • n. A faint trace or hint (of something).
  • n. A private message to an individual in a chat room.
  • v. To talk in a quiet voice.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A low, soft, sibilant voice or utterance, which can be heard only by those near at hand; voice or utterance that employs only breath sound without tone, friction against the edges of the vocal cords and arytenoid cartilages taking the place of the vibration of the cords that produces tone; sometimes, in a limited sense, the sound produced by such friction as distinguished from breath sound made by friction against parts of the mouth. See Voice, n., 2, and Guide to Pronunciation, §§ 5, 153, 154.
  • n. A cautious or timorous speech.
  • n. Something communicated in secret or by whispering; a suggestion or insinuation.
  • n. A low, sibilant sound.
  • intransitive v. 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.
  • intransitive v. To make a low, sibilant sound or noise.
  • intransitive v. To speak with suspicion, or timorous caution; to converse in whispers, as in secret plotting.
  • transitive v. To utter in a low and nonvocal tone; to say under the breath; hence, to mention privately and confidentially, or in a whisper.
  • transitive v. To address in a whisper, or low voice.
  • transitive v. To prompt secretly or cautiously; to inform privately.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To speak without uttering voice or sonant breath; speak with a low, rustling voice; speak softly or under the breath; converse in whispers: often implying plotting, evil-speaking, and the like.
  • To make a low, rustling sound, like that of a whisper.
  • To utter in a low non-vocal tone; say under the breath; state or communicate in whispers: often implying plotting, slanderous talk, etc.
  • To address or inform in a whisper or low voice, especially with the view of avoiding publicity: elliptical for whisper to.
  • n. The utterance of words with the breath not made vocal; a low, soft, rustling voice.
  • n. A whispered word, remark, or conversation.
  • n. A secret hint, suggestion, or insinuation.
  • n. A low, rustling sound of whispering, or a similar sound, as of the wind.
  • n. Specifically, in medicine, the sound of the whispering voice transmitted to the ear of the auscultator placed against the chest-wall.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a light noise, like the noise of silk clothing or leaves blowing in the wind
  • v. speak softly; in a low voice
  • n. speaking softly without vibration of the vocal cords

Etymologies

From Middle English whisperen, to whisper, from Old English hwisprian.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English hwisprian ("to whistle"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • Ooh, somebody noticed! We loaded a lot of "sound effects" pronunciations at the appropriate words a while back -- beep is probably my favorite. I like to imagine that it was recorded by Harpo Marx. (Note: it was not recorded by Harpo Marx.)

    December 15, 2009

  • What's with the Onomatopoeia recording on pronunciation? Where did that come from?

    December 14, 2009

  • prayer, incantation

    July 24, 2009

  • thththththt!

    August 8, 2008

  • Thpectacular idea! :-)

    August 8, 2008

  • See lisp for a neat trick for making a whithper truly dithcreet. (Courtesy C.S. Lewis)

    August 8, 2008