From Middle English whisperen, from Old English hwisprian (“to mutter, murmur, whisper”), from Proto-West Germanic *hwisprōn, from Proto-Germanic *hwisprōną (“to hiss, whistle, whisper”), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱweys-, *ḱwey- (“to hiss, whistle, whisper”).
Cognate with Dutch wisperen (“to whisper”), German wispern (“to mumble, whisper”). Related also to Danish hviske (“to whisper”), Icelandic hvískra (“to whisper”), Norwegian Bokmål hviske, kviskre (“to whisper”), Norwegian Nynorsk kviskre, kviskra (“to whisper”), Swedish viska (“to whisper”). More at English whistle.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈ(h)wɪspə/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈ(h)wɪspɚ/
Audio (GA) (file)
- Rhymes: -ɪspə(ɹ)
whisper (plural whispers)
- The act of speaking in a quiet voice, especially, without vibration of the vocal cords.
- I spoke in a near whisper
- (usually in the plural) A rumor.
- There are whispers of rebellion all around.
- (figurative) A faint trace or hint (of something).
- The soup had just a whisper of basil.
- A low rustling sound, like that of the wind in leaves.
- (Internet) A private message to an individual in a chat room.
- 2002, Ralph Schroeder, The Social Life of Avatars, page 218:
- The invisibility of private interactions in the form of whispers resolved an ethical concern in the research but reduced our ability to gauge the volume of interaction […]
- 2004, Caroline A. Haythornthwaite, Michelle M. Kazmer, Learning, Culture and Community in Online Education, page 179:
- Anyone logged in to the chat room can click on an individual name, highlighting it, and send a message — a whisper — that will be seen only by the selected person.
- (intransitive) To speak softly, or under the breath, so as to be heard only by one near at hand; to utter words without sonant breath; to talk without that vibration in the larynx which gives sonorous, or vocal, sound.
- (transitive) To mention privately and confidentially, or in a whisper.
- 1692, Richard Bentley, [A Confutation of Atheism] (please specify the sermon), London: [Thomas Parkhurst; Henry Mortlock], published 1692–1693:
- They might buzz and whisper it one to another.
- (intransitive) To make a low, sibilant sound.
- (intransitive) To speak with suspicion or timorous caution; to converse in whispers, as in secret plotting.
- (transitive, obsolete) To address in a whisper, or low voice.
- 1827, [John Keble], The Christian Year: Thoughts in Verse for the Sundays and Holydays throughout the Year, volumes (please specify |volume=I or II), Oxford, Oxfordshire: […] [B]y W. Baxter, for J. Parker; and C[harles] and J[ohn] Rivington, […], →OCLC:
- where gentlest breezes whisper souls distressed
- (transitive, obsolete) To prompt secretly or cautiously; to inform privately.
- 1613 (date written), William Shakespeare, [John Fletcher], “The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eight”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene ii]:
- He came to whisper Wolsey.