from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To emit a continuous low droning sound like that of the speech sound (m) when prolonged.
  • intransitive verb To emit the continuous droning sound of a bee on the wing; buzz.
  • intransitive verb To give forth a low continuous drone blended of many sounds.
  • intransitive verb To be in a state of busy activity.
  • intransitive verb To produce a tune without opening the lips or forming words.
  • intransitive verb To sing (a tune) without opening the lips or forming words.
  • intransitive verb Baseball To throw or pitch (a ball) very fast.
  • noun The sound produced by humming.
  • noun The act of humming.
  • interjection Used to indicate hesitation, surprise, or displeasure.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An imposition or hoax; a humbug.
  • An interjectional, hesitating sound, uttered with or during a pause; hem; h'm.
  • To trick or delude; impose on; cajole.
  • noun Any inarticulate, low, murmuring, or buzzing sound, as that made by bees in flight, by a spinning top, etc.; a faint continuous sound having no definite pitch; a buzz.
  • noun Specifically— A low confused noise, as of a crowd, or of distant voices or sounds of any kind.
  • noun A buzz or murmur of applause or approbation.
  • noun A sound uttered with closed mouth by a speaker in a pause from embarrassment, affectation, or the like: as, hums and haws. Also (and now more commonly) hem.
  • noun A drink formerly common, probably made of strong ale or of ale and spirit. Its exact composition is not known.
  • To make a prolonged droning sound, as a bee in flight; drone; murmur; buzz.
  • To give utterance to a similar sound, such as the droning of a tune, a contemptuous or vacant mumbling, a murmuring expression of applause or satisfaction, hesitation, dissent, etc.
  • Same as hem.
  • To sing with shut mouth, as to the sound m; murmur without articulation; mumble: as, to hum an air.
  • To express approbation of, or applaud, by humming.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To make a low, prolonged sound, like that of a bee in flight; to drone; to murmur; to buzz.
  • intransitive verb To make a nasal sound, like that of the letter m prolonged, without opening the mouth, or articulating; to mumble in monotonous undertone; to drone.
  • intransitive verb To make an inarticulate sound, like h'm, through the nose in the process of speaking, from embarrassment or a affectation; to hem.
  • intransitive verb To express satisfaction by a humming noise.
  • intransitive verb To have the sensation of a humming noise.
  • noun A low monotonous noise, as of bees in flight, of a swiftly revolving top, of a wheel, or the like; a drone; a buzz.
  • noun Any inarticulate and buzzing sound.
  • noun The confused noise of a crowd or of machinery, etc., heard at a distance.
  • noun A buzz or murmur, as of approbation.
  • noun An imposition or hoax.
  • noun An inarticulate nasal sound or murmur, like h'm, uttered by a speaker in pause from embarrassment, affectation, etc.
  • noun obsolete A kind of strong drink formerly used.
  • noun See under Venous.
  • transitive verb To sing with shut mouth; to murmur without articulation; to mumble.
  • transitive verb To express satisfaction with by humming.
  • transitive verb Colloq. & Low To flatter by approving; to cajole; to impose on; to humbug.
  • interjection Ahem; hem; an inarticulate sound uttered in a pause of speech implying doubt and deliberation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A hummed tune, i.e. created orally with lips closed.
  • noun An often indistinct sound resembling human humming.
  • noun Busy activity, like a beehive's buzz
  • noun UK, slang unpleasant odour.
  • verb intransitive To make a sound from the vocal chords without pronouncing any real words, with one's lips closed.
  • verb transitive To express of affect by humming
  • verb intransitive To drone like certain insects naturally do in motion, or sounding similarly
  • verb intransitive To buzz, be busily active like a beehive
  • verb intransitive To produce low sounds which blend continuously


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

[Middle English hummen, of imitative origin.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English hommen "make a murmuring sound to cover embarrassment," later (medieval English) hummen "to buzz, drone" (c.1420); akin to (medieval and modern) Dutch hommel 'humblebee', medieval German hummen 'to hum', probably ultimately of imitative origin



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "Empty of everything, in a hum of sempiternal readiness for that soul-wilting, muse-recoiling Jawohl, Herr Kommandant! to shoot up one’s spinal column as quick as a blastula ..." from John Latta's Isola di Rifiuti

    August 3, 2007

  • Citation on bagpipes.

    June 26, 2008

  • Also a term for pleasantly strong liquor; a mixture of ale or beer, and spirits.

    July 11, 2008

  • the smallest city in the world; located in Croatia.

    May 6, 2009

  • See comment under pulmonically.

    February 22, 2011

  • "The milt of a codfish dressed, a delicacy." --Dr. Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary and Supplement, 1841.

    May 23, 2011