sing small



From sing + small (in a small fashion; (obsolete) in a low tone, softly).



sing small (third-person singular simple present sings small, present participle singing small, simple past sang small, past participle sung small) (intransitive)

  1. (idiomatic)
    1. To assume a humble tone.
      • 1753 (indicated as 1754), [Samuel Richardson], “Letter XVII. Miss Byron. In Continuation.”, in The History of Sir Charles Grandison. [], volume I, 2nd edition, London: [] S[amuel] Richardson; [a]nd sold by C. Hitch and L. Hawes, [], OCLC 926827207, page 111:
        By all that's good, I muſt myſelf ſing ſmall in her company!—I vvill never meet at hard-edge vvith her— []
      • 1877 October, Cope’s Tobacco Plant. A Monthly Periodical, Interesting to the Manufactuerer, the Dealer, and the Smoker, volume II, number 91, Liverpool, Lancashire: John Fraser, OCLC 1565081, page 86, column 2:
        Then shoots through my enjoyment / The one sharp drop of gall: / The host—the cur, the heathen— / On 'Baccy singeth small.
    2. To not say anything; to keep quiet.
      • a. 1850 (date written), James Clarence Mangan, “An Invitation”, in Poems [], New York, N.Y.: P. M. Haverty, [], published 1859, OCLC 491428969, page 436:
        Deutschland sleeps: her star has waned. / France, the Thundress whilome, now / Singeth small, with bated breath.
    3. To play a minor part.
  2. (singing, obsolete) To sing softly.



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