verb (used without object), hummed, humming.
to make a low, continuous, droning sound.
to give forth an indistinct sound of mingled voices or noises.
to utter an indistinct sound in hesitation, embarrassment, dissatisfaction, etc.; hem.
to sing with closed lips, without articulating words.
to be in a state of busy activity: The household hummed in preparation for the wedding.
British Slang. to have a bad odor, as of stale perspiration.
verb (used with object), hummed, humming.
to sound, sing, or utter by humming: to hum a tune.
to bring, put, etc., by humming: to hum a child to sleep.
the act or sound of humming; an inarticulate or indistinct murmur; hem.
Audio. an unwanted low-frequency sound caused by power-line frequencies in any audio component.
(an inarticulate sound uttered in contemplation, hesitation, dissatisfaction, doubt, etc.)

1300–50; Middle English; ultimately imitative; cognate with German hummen to hum; cf. humblebee

underhum, noun

5. bustle, buzz. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To hum
World English Dictionary
hum (hʌm)
vb , hums, humming, hummed
1.  (intr) to make a low continuous vibrating sound like that of a prolonged m
2.  (intr) (of a person) to sing with the lips closed
3.  (intr) to utter an indistinct sound, as in hesitation; hem
4.  informal (intr) to be in a state of feverish activity
5.  slang (Brit), (Irish) (intr) to smell unpleasant
6.  slang (Austral) (intr) to scrounge
7.  hum and haw See hem
8.  a low continuous murmuring sound
9.  electronics an undesired low-frequency noise in the output of an amplifier or receiver, esp one caused by the power supply
10.  slang (Austral) a scrounger; cadger
11.  slang (Brit), (Irish) an unpleasant odour
interj, —n
12.  an indistinct sound of hesitation, embarrassment, etc; hem
[C14: of imitative origin; compare Dutch hommelen, Old High German humbal bumblebee]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

late 14c., hommen "make a murmuring sound to cover embarrassment," later hummen "to buzz, drone" (early 15c.), probably of imitative origin. Sense of "sing with closed lips" is first attested late 15c.; that of "be busy and active" is 1884, perhaps on analogy of a beehive. Humming-bird (1630s) so called
from sound made by the rapid vibration of its wings.
"There is a curious bird to see to, called a humming bird, no bigger then a great Beetle." [Thomas Morton, "New English Canaan," 1637]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

hum (hŭm)
A low, continuous murmur blended of many sounds.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Britannica


(from Spanish pepino, "cucumber"), also called Hum (Serbo-Croatian: "hill"), or Haystack Hill, conical hill of residual limestone in a deeply eroded karst region. Pepino hills generally form on relatively flat-lying limestones that are jointed in large rectangles. In an alternating wet and dry climate, high areas become increasingly hard and resistant while low areas are subjected to greater erosion and solution. In some places, such as the Kwangsi area of China, pepino hills may have almost vertical sides and may be riddled with caves. Pepino hills develop to greater heights in regions having subtropical or equatorial rainfall and are then generally called mogotes (Spanish: "hillocks").

Learn more about hum with a free trial on

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Example sentences for hum
Instead small flutes are attached allowing the wind to hum a musical tune.
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature