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From Middle English murmur, murmor, murmour, from Old French murmure (modern French murmure), from Latin murmur ‎(murmur, humming, muttering, roaring, growling, rushing etc.).



murmur ‎(plural murmurs)

  1. (countable) Low or indistinct sounds or speech.
    • 1874, Marcus Clarke, For the Term of His Natural Life, chapter V:
      In the prison of the 'tween decks reigned a darkness pregnant with murmurs. The sentry at the entrance to the hatchway was supposed to "prevent the prisoners from making a noise," but he put a very liberal interpretation upon the clause, and so long as the prisoners refrained from shouting, yelling, and fighting--eccentricities in which they sometimes indulged--he did not disturb them.
    A murmur arose from the audience.
    • 1960, P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves in the Offing, chapter XI:
      The moment had come for the honeyed word. I lowered my voice to a confidential murmur, but on her inquiring if I had laryngitis raised it again.
  2. (medicine) The sound made by any condition which produces noisy, or turbulent, flow of blood through the heart.
  3. A muttered complaint or protest; the expression of dissatisfaction in a low muttering voice; any expression of complaint or discontent
    • 1919, Boris Sidis, The Source and Aim of Human Progress:
      In fear of disease and in the interest of his health man will be muzzled and masked like a vicious dog, and that without any murmur of complaint.
    • 1960, P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves in the Offing, chapter XX:
      Glossop will return from his afternoon off to find the awful majesty of the Law waiting for him, complete with handcuffs. We can hardly expect him to accept an exemplary sentence without a murmur, so his first move will be to establish his innocence by revealing all.


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murmur ‎(third-person singular simple present murmurs, present participle murmuring, simple past and past participle murmured)

  1. (intransitive, now rare) To grumble; to complain in a low, muttering voice, or express discontent at or against someone or something. [from 14th c.]
    • 1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, John 6:41:
      The Iewes then murmured at him because he sayde: I am that breed which is come doune from heaven.
  2. (intransitive) To speak or make low, indistinguishable noise; to mumble, mutter. [from 14th c.]
    I couldn't hear the words; he just murmured a lot.
    The bees murmured in the forest. The waves murmured on the shore.
    • 1922, Ben Travers, chapter 7, in A Cuckoo in the Nest:
      “Oh yes,” he murmured in a tone of obligatory surprise, as he proceeded to make the kind of 2 which he attributed to Margaret's style of chirography.
  3. (transitive) To say (something) indistinctly, to mutter. [from 15th c.]

Derived terms[edit]



External links[edit]


  • murmur in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
  • murmur” in OED Online, Oxford University Press, 1989.



From Proto-Indo-European *mormur-, *mur- ‎(to mutter). Reduplication points to imitative, onomatopoeic origin. Cognate with Sanskrit मर्मर ‎(marmara, rustling sound, murmur), Ancient Greek μορμύρω ‎(mormúrō, to roar, boil), Lithuanian mùrmėti ‎(to mutter, murmur, babble), Old High German murmurōn, murmulōn ‎(to mumble, murmur), Old Norse murra ‎(to grumble, mumble), Old Armenian մռմռամ ‎(mṙmṙam).



murmur n ‎(genitive murmuris); third declension

  1. murmur, murmuring
  2. humming, roaring, growling, grumbling
  3. rushing, crashing


Third declension neuter.

Case Singular Plural
nominative murmur murmura
genitive murmuris murmurum
dative murmurī murmuribus
accusative murmur murmura
ablative murmure murmuribus
vocative murmur murmura