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See also: stage-whisper



Alternative formsEdit


stage + whisper


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈsteɪdʒ ˈwɪs.pə/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈsteɪdʒ ˈwɪs.pɚ/
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stage whisper (plural stage whispers)

  1. (theater) A line that is performed on stage as if it were whispered, but is spoken loud enough that the audience can hear.
    • 1869, "Lives of Lord Lyndhurst and Lord Brougham", The Edinburgh Review‎, Volume CXXIX, page 568-569
      ' [] When the division was announced, he chuckled exceedingly, and in a stage whisper exclaimed, "Grey is check-mated !" '
    • 1887, Sir Frederick Pollock, Personal Remembrances of Sir Frederick Pollock, page 248
      Near to the audience the stage whisper was not much louder, although more distinct, than an ordinary whisper in private life.
    • 1998, Michael McCallion, The Voice Book, page 189
      Perhaps because of this, the convention of the 'stage whisper' came into being. All that distinguishes it from the true whisper is that a very little amount of voice in introduced and so what you end up with is extremely breathy voice production []
    • 2001, Shelley Freydont, High Seas Murder‎, page 326
      "Pretty legs," said Rebo in a stage whisper as Peter slowed down.
  2. (by extension) Any loud whisper intended to be heard.



stage whisper (third-person singular simple present stage whispers, present participle stage whispering, simple past and past participle stage whispered)

  1. (theater) To perform a stage whisper.
    • 1878, in Things in General, volume 2, p. 132:
      The duet was embellished with stage-whispered solos [...]
    • 1883, Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, chapter 31 "A Thumb-print and What Came of It":
      “The captain's voice, by G–!” said the stage-whispering ruffian, and both robbers fled by the way of the back door, shutting off their bull's-eye as they ran.
    • 1960, P[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, chapter XVI, in Jeeves in the Offing, London: Herbert Jenkins, OCLC 1227855:
      [...] Bobbie sprang at me like a leopardess. “What on earth are you fooling about for like this, Bertie?” she stage-whispered.
    • 2012, The Economist, 22nd Sep., East Asian rivalry: protesting too much
      Into this melodrama stepped the American defence secretary, Leon Panetta. He stopped in both countries, urged both sides to get along better and affirmed America’s pledge of mutual defence with Japan—though an unnamed senior American military official stage-whispered to the Washington Post that America wouldn’t go to war “over a rock”.
    • There is some evidence to suggest that in whispered speech, particularly stage whispered speech, the larynx is raised appreciably.