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quaver

[kwey-ver] /ˈkweɪ vər/
verb (used without object)
1.
to shake tremulously; quiver or tremble:
He stood there quavering with fear.
2.
to sound, speak, or sing tremulously:
Her voice quavered a moment and then she regained control.
3.
to perform trills in singing or on a musical instrument.
verb (used with object)
4.
to utter, say, or sing with a quavering or tremulous voice.
noun
5.
a quavering or tremulous shake, especially in the voice.
6.
a quavering tone or utterance.
7.
Music (chiefly British) an eighth note.
Origin of quaver
late Middle English
1400-1450
1400-50; late Middle English quaveren (v.), blend of quake and waver1
Related forms
quaverer, noun
quaveringly, adverb
quavery, quaverous, adjective
unquavering, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for quavery
Historical Examples
  • It was the voice of Grannie, low and quavery; she was rocking the cradle.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • It was as quavery as old Doctor Fleury's, the Methodist preacher who's laid off from work.

    Mary Cary Kate Langley Bosher
  • At that Grannie fell to rocking herself as well as the child, and to singing a hymn in a quavery voice.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • But a thin and quavery and over-disturbing sound from the swing-box out on the sleeping-porch brought me up short.

    The Prairie Mother Arthur Stringer
  • His voice was high and quavery; not a good pulpit voice, Conn thought.

    The Cosmic Computer Henry Beam Piper
  • “It would be good to set the mizzen-topgallant,” I heard Captain West mutter in a weak, quavery voice.

  • He talked broken an quavery, an it took him a long time to finish; but when he did quit, he turned on his bad breathin again.

    Friar Tuck Robert Alexander Wason
British Dictionary definitions for quavery

quaver

/ˈkweɪvə/
verb
1.
to say or sing (something) with a trembling voice
2.
(intransitive) (esp of the voice) to quiver, tremble, or shake
3.
(intransitive) (rare) to sing or play quavers or ornamental trills
noun
4.
(music) a note having the time value of an eighth of a semibreve Usual US and Canadian name eighth note
5.
a tremulous sound or note
Derived Forms
quaverer, noun
quavering, adjective
quaveringly, adverb
quavery, adjective
Word Origin
C15 (in the sense: to vibrate, quiver1): from quaven to tremble, of Germanic origin; compare Low German quabbeln to tremble
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for quavery

quaver

v.

"to vibrate, tremble," early 15c., probably a frequentative of cwavien "to tremble, shake" (early 13c.), which probably is related to Low German quabbeln "tremble," and possibly of imitative origin. Meaning "sing in trills or quavers" first recorded 1530s. Related: Quavered; quavering.

n.

1560s, in music, "eighth note," from quaver (v.). Meaning "a tremble in the voice" is from 1748.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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