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whisper

[hwis-per, wis-per] /ˈʰwɪs pər, ˈwɪs pər/
verb (used without object)
1.
to speak with soft, hushed sounds, using the breath, lips, etc., but with no vibration of the vocal cords.
2.
Phonetics. to produce utterance substituting breath for phonation.
3.
to talk softly and privately (often implying gossip, slander, plotting, or the like):
The king knew that the courtiers were whispering.
4.
(of trees, water, breezes, etc.) to make a soft, rustling sound like that of whispering.
verb (used with object)
5.
to utter with soft, low sounds, using the breath, lips, etc.:
He whispered endearments to her.
6.
Phonetics. to utter (speech sounds) substituting breath for phonation.
7.
to say or tell in a whisper; tell privately.
8.
to speak to or tell (a person) in a whisper or privately.
noun
9.
the mode of utterance, or the voice, of a person who whispers:
to speak in a whisper.
10.
a word or remark uttered by whispering.
11.
a rumor or insinuation:
Whispers circulated about the affair.
12.
a soft, rustling sound like a whisper:
the whisper of leaves in the wind.
Origin
950
before 950; Middle English whisperen (v.), Old English hwisprian; cognate with German wispern; akin to Old Norse hviskra to whisper, hvīsla to whistle. See whine
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for whisper
  • Medical bills have since wiped out his savings, and the tumor has reduced his voice to a whisper.
  • His voice is low, hardly a whisper over the sound of the traffic roaring outside his gate.
  • And, for nearly a decade, he couldn't speak above a hoarse whisper.
  • From the softest whisper to the loudest roar, our ears pick up sound.
  • His colleagues whisper that his planet doesn't go all the way around his star.
  • Today dawned gray-on-gray, silver fog touching the sea's silvered surface, with not a whisper of wind.
  • Rock these where it doesn't matter if the external din is muffled to a whisper.
  • It is jinn, they say, who whisper into the ears of suicide-bombers.
  • Once, his ill-fated barber managed to swim away and whisper something to the reeds before dying.
  • It's relatively small and discrete, and even though it sports a tiny fan it's whisper quiet.
British Dictionary definitions for whisper

whisper

/ˈwɪspə/
verb
1.
to speak or utter (something) in a soft hushed tone, esp without vibration of the vocal cords
2.
(intransitive) to speak secretly or furtively, as in promoting intrigue, gossip, etc
3.
(intransitive) (of leaves, trees, etc) to make a low soft rustling sound
4.
(transitive) to utter or suggest secretly or privately: to whisper treason
noun
5.
a low soft voice: to speak in a whisper
6.
something uttered in such a voice
7.
a low soft rustling sound
8.
a trace or suspicion
9.
(informal) a rumour or secret
Word Origin
Old English hwisprian; related to Old Norse hvīskra, Old High German hwispalōn, Dutch wispern
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for whisper
v.

Old English hwisprian "speak very softly" (only in a Northumbrian gloss for Latin murmurare), from Proto-Germanic *khwis- (cf. Middle Dutch wispelen, Old High German hwispalon, German wispeln, wispern, Old Norse hviskra "to whisper"), imitative and probably related to Old English hwistlian "to whistle." Related: Whispered; whispering. The noun is from 1590s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with whisper

whisper

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Article for whisper

speech in which the vocal cords are held rigid, preventing the vibration that produces normal sounds. In whispering, voiceless sounds are produced as usual; but voiced sounds (e.g., vowels) are produced by forcing air through a narrow glottal opening formed by holding the vocal cords rigid and close together. See also voice; vocal fry.

Learn more about whisper with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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15
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