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From Middle English whisperen, from Old English hwisprian (to mutter, murmur, whisper), from Proto-Germanic *hwisprōną. Cognate with Dutch wisperen (to whisper), German Low German wispeln (to whisper), German wispern (to mumble, whisper). Related also to Danish hviske (to whisper), Swedish viska (to whisper), Norwegian hviske (to whisper), Icelandic hvískra and hvísla (to whisper). More at English whistle.



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whisper (plural whispers)

  1. The act of speaking in a quiet voice, especially, without vibration of the vocal cords.
  2. (usually in the plural) A rumor.
    There are whispers of rebellion all around.
  3. (figuratively) A faint trace or hint (of something).
    The soup had just a whisper of basil.
  4. A low rustling sound, like that of the wind in leaves.
  5. (Internet) A private message to an individual in a chat room.
    • 2002, Ralph Schroeder, The Social Life of Avatars (page 218)
      The invisibility of private interactions in the form of whispers resolved an ethical concern in the research but reduced our ability to gauge the volume of interaction []
    • 2004, Caroline A. Haythornthwaite, Michelle M. Kazmer, Learning, Culture and Community in Online Education (page 179)
      Anyone logged in to the chat room can click on an individual name, highlighting it, and send a message — a whisper — that will be seen only by the selected person.

Derived termsEdit



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

  1. (intransitive) 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.
  2. (transitive) To mention privately and confidentially, or in a whisper.
    • Bentley
      They might buzz and whisper it one to another.
  3. (intransitive) To make a low, sibilant sound.
    • Thomson
      the hollow, whispering breeze
  4. (intransitive) To speak with suspicion or timorous caution; to converse in whispers, as in secret plotting.
    • Bible, Psalms xli. 7
      All that hate me whisper together against me.
  5. (transitive, obsolete) To address in a whisper, or low voice.
    • Shakespeare
      and whisper one another in the ear
    • Keble
      where gentlest breezes whisper souls distressed
  6. (transitive, obsolete) To prompt secretly or cautiously; to inform privately.
    • Shakespeare
      He came to whisper Wolsey.

Derived termsEdit