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[sou, suhf] /saʊ, sʌf/
verb (used without object)
to make a rushing, rustling, or murmuring sound:
the wind soughing in the meadow.
Scot. and North England. to speak, especially to preach, in a whining, singsong voice.
a sighing, rustling, or murmuring sound.
Scot. and North England.
  1. a sigh or deep breath.
  2. a whining, singsong manner of speaking.
  3. a rumor; unconfirmed report.
Origin of sough1
before 900; (v.) Middle English swoghen, Old English swōgan to make a noise; cognate with Old Saxon swōgan, Old English swēgan, Gothic -swōgjan; (noun) Middle English swow, swo(u)gh, derivative of the v.
Related forms
soughfully, adverb
soughless, adjective


[suhf, sou] /sʌf, saʊ/ British
drain; drainage ditch, gutter, or sewer.
a swampy or marshy area.
verb (used with object)
to drain (land or a mine) by building drainage ditches or the like.
Also, especially Scot., sugh.
1250-1300; Middle English sogh, sohn < ?; compare Dutch (dial.) zoeg little ditch Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for sough
Historical Examples
  • Three hours after, Caius sough his father as the old man was making his nightly tour of the barns and stables.

    The Mermaid Lily Dougall
  • If there's a' sough o' cholera,Or typhus,—wha sae gleg as she?

  • Thick rain-clouds were descending upon them, and we could hear the sough of the falling water.

    The Scalp Hunters Mayne Reid
  • He could hear the sough of the sea on the beach, far down below him.

    Washed Ashore W.H.G. Kingston
  • She loved, too, the stir and sough of the creaking pines and the cheery calls from the barnyard.

    Kennedy Square F. Hopkinson Smith
  • Naught was heard save the droning of the students and the sough of the wind in the forest.

  • The sough of the calm sea could not reach so far; the flies were few; no bird sang.

    Beyond John Galsworthy
  • I knew it was the “sough” of the sea against the sides of the vessel.

    The Boy Tar Mayne Reid
  • I'll get me out upon the heath, where I can hear the sough of the night winds, and listen to the night-birds' screech.

  • The air was full of the rush of the waves and the sough of a rising wind.

    Mrs. Severn, Vol. 1 (of 3) Mary Elizabeth Carter
British Dictionary definitions for sough


(intransitive) (esp of the wind) to make a characteristic sighing sound
a soft continuous murmuring sound
Word Origin
Old English swōgan to resound; related to Gothic gaswogjan to groan, Lithuanian svageti to sound, Latin vāgīre to lament


(Northern English, dialect) a sewer or drain or an outlet channel
Word Origin
of obscure origin
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 sough

"to make a moaning or murmuring sound," Old English swogan "to sound, roar, howl, rustle, whistle," from Proto-Germanic *swoganan (cf. Old Saxon swogan "to rustle," Gothic gaswogjan "to sigh"), from PIE imitative root *(s)wagh- (cf. Greek echo, Latin vagire "to cry, roar, sound"). The noun is late 14c., from the verb.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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