Definition of murmur in US English:



  • 1A soft, indistinct sound made by a person or group of people speaking quietly or at a distance.

    ‘his voice was little more than a murmur’
    • ‘There was a soft murmur in the distance - a distant chatter of nurses and peeved senior citizens.’
    • ‘A faint light could be seen from the outside, and soft murmurs indicated that a meeting was taking place.’
    • ‘A riffling noise joins the murmur of a few voices under the high ceiling.’
    • ‘A soft murmur went through the crowd, but he silenced them again with a raise of his arm.’
    • ‘The soft murmurs of everyone having afternoon tea filled the lobby.’
    • ‘I laid in my bed for some time after, listening to the soft murmur of people talking downstairs.’
    • ‘‘I apologize,’ their voices faded to a soft murmur as they moved away.’
    • ‘Sarah woke up to the low murmur of people speaking.’
    • ‘Quiet at first, they might have been mistaken for the sound of the wind in the neighbouring trees, but these voices never subsided, never ceased, their murmur became clamour.’
    • ‘She remembered the feeling of the rough-hewn walls against her fingertips and the soft murmur of voices that sounded like the stone was speaking to her, but no directions.’
    • ‘I pushed open the front door, and immediately heard the soft, worried murmur of voices from the den.’
    1. 1.1 A softly spoken or almost inaudible utterance.
      ‘she accepted his offer with a quiet murmur of thanks’
      • ‘Receiving only an inaudible murmur in response, he returned his attention to the occupied seats across the room.’
      • ‘There were thousands of murmurs, all whispering: ‘What did he just say?’’
      • ‘I let out a breath, along with a little murmur of thanks to whatever god might be up there.’
      • ‘‘I'll teach you,’ he kept muttering, though his murmurs were nearly indecipherable.’
      • ‘With a murmur of thanks he took it from me and began rapidly riffling through the pages until he came to ‘The Phoenix and the Turtle.’’
      • ‘He asked quietly in almost a murmur, shifting only slightly in his seat so as not to disturb his precious burden.’
      • ‘Because as soon as you step in, you become aware of a huge sea of noise stretching away before you: whispers, murmurs, bangs, shouts, swearing, poems, confessions, exhortations.’
      • ‘There was a general murmur of thanks and hope-she-gets-betters, and then, one by one, they all left the hall in hushed excitement.’
      • ‘He has always answered questions slowly at a voice level hardly above a murmur and it is no different today.’
      • ‘He continues to explain himself in a murmur as the whole bank listens in.’
    2. 1.2 The quiet or subdued expression of a particular feeling by a group of people.
      ‘there was a murmur of approval from the crowd’
      • ‘There were soft murmurs of good luck and the class began.’
      • ‘After that psychological barrier was passed, the remaining scrambles and squeezes were negotiated with relative ease, and any mutinous murmurs were thankfully subdued.’
      • ‘A warm murmur of approval rippled across the room.’
      • ‘Wayward-looking tee shots were greeted with expectant murmurs of approval which turned into disappointed applause if the ball ended up on the green.’
      • ‘Though there are murmurs of general approval, the crowd seems skeptical about its ability to implement such suggestions.’
      • ‘Her haggard face and melancholy expression elicited a murmur of shock from the assemblage of reporters as she moved to the podium and began to speak.’
      • ‘There were murmurs of approval from the men and women of the council.’
      • ‘A murmur of thanks and respect rippled through the room.’
      • ‘Loud gasps and quiet, anxious murmurs ripple through the lunch crowd.’
      • ‘There was a general murmur of approval and excitement.’
      • ‘When the change was announced in 1993 there was not a murmur of dissent.’
      • ‘But even at this period there were murmurs of dissent: Dr Johnson complained that Milton used ‘English words with a foreign idiom’.’
      • ‘The others murmur what could be approval or embarrassment, nurse their bourbons, and glumly fall back into silence.’
      • ‘A murmur of disbelief spread through the room, but quieted when she spoke again.’
      • ‘There were approving murmurs from people close by and at the conclusion, sustained but restrained applause.’
      • ‘A soft murmur of agreement swept through the rest of them, and they were now facing the General with determination in their eyes.’
      • ‘There are also murmurs of dissent inside the house.’
      • ‘The young woman's attack raises a murmur of approval from the other women in the room.’
      • ‘The air, the quiet murmur of happy kids, it all helped.’
      • ‘Now there's barely the slightest murmur of dissent.’
      • ‘The response from MPs consisted of sympathetic murmurs and mumbled hear-hears.’
      • ‘Nary a murmur of dissent was voiced amongst the remarkably relaxed muso crowd.’
      whisper, undertone, mutter, mumble
      complaint, grumble, moan, grouse
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 A rumor.
      ‘he had heard hints only, murmurs’
      • ‘A key theme of his latest work is the spread of murmurs of apocalyptic marvels and of ambivalent savior-cum-charlatan figures on the horizon.’
      • ‘There are murmurs that although he may have been a victim, he wasn't an innocent victim.’
      • ‘There were murmurs of the deaths being part of some ritualistic killing.’
      • ‘There are murmurs that the incident was politically motivated.’
      • ‘There are murmurs amongst aficionados of his edgy, Gothic parables of Americana that he has gone over to The Other Side and become mainstream.’
      • ‘There are murmurs of fresh demonstrations in the town.’
    4. 1.4 A low continuous sound.
      ‘the murmur of bees in the rhododendrons’
      • ‘Synths and strings melt together for a lush background murmur, behind the lean, precise jazz-pop song structures, all wrapped in thick, warm production.’
      • ‘If you're looking for a glamorous night out, bathed in the glow of candlelight with the unassuming murmur of trip hop in the background, than you've come to the wrong place.’
      • ‘The only sound was the soft murmur of the computers, the steady tick of the clock, and the somewhat less steady tapping of Pierson rhythmically belting his chair with his fingers.’
      • ‘Flags flap briskly in a stiffening wind, providing the only sounds beyond the clicking of cameras and the distant murmur of cars making their slow, careful way to the site.’
      • ‘The whole medical section was silent for a moment save for the hum of equipment, then the background murmur started again.’
      • ‘Cath watched long enough that the sounds in the cafeteria became a distant murmur, a sort of background noise to her thoughts.’
      • ‘The noises of the performance were now a distant murmur, but other than that it was completely silent.’
      • ‘The pin-drop silence at the start gradually melted into a gentle background murmur, full of the sound of papers rustling, friends whispering and restless feet shuffling.’
      • ‘Snow-like petals carpeted the lawn, softening the sound of footsteps to a distant murmur.’
      burble, babble, purl, gurgle
      hum, humming, buzz, buzzing, whir, thrum, thrumming, drone, sigh
      View synonyms
    5. 1.5Medicine A recurring sound heard in the heart through a stethoscope that is usually a sign of disease or damage.
      • ‘Careful examination of the heart may reveal murmurs, extra sounds, or cardiac enlargement.’
      • ‘Sometimes, a doctor can determine with the stethoscope alone whether a particular murmur is a sign of heart disease.’
      • ‘A murmur is heard through a stethoscope as the heart beats.’
      • ‘Cardiac and lung examinations were normal with normal heart sounds and no murmurs.’
      • ‘A doctor may suspect aortic valve sclerosis on hearing a heart murmur with a stethoscope.’
    6. 1.6informal A condition in which the heart produces or is apt to produce a recurring sound indicative of disease or damage.
      ‘she had been born with a heart murmur’
      • ‘Symptoms include fever, swollen joints, chest pains or other signs of heart problems, including heart murmurs and congestive heart failure.’
      • ‘He was starving and suffering from a broken leg and heart murmur.’
      • ‘A referral to the cardiologist has shown that his heart murmur was not due to any structural abnormality as an echocardiogram was normal.’
      • ‘Her past medical history was unremarkable, except for a heart murmur.’
      • ‘It can be present at birth or develop later in life. A heart murmur is not a disease.’


  • 1reporting verb Say something in a low, soft, or indistinct voice.

    with object ‘Nina murmured an excuse and hurried away’
    with direct speech ‘“How interesting,” he murmured quietly’
    • ‘The voice murmured something and the door to their right opened.’
    • ‘‘We'll chuck your things in my room,’ Alex murmured as he began walking up the stairs to the second floor.’
    • ‘She paces the room with her baby close to her chest, murmuring quietly against her ear to pacify her.’
    • ‘My cousin's wife sat in the corner, a daughter on either side, her arms around their shoulders, murmuring prayers softly.’
    • ‘‘I still haven't had the pleasure of knowing your name,’ she murmured in a husky voice.’
    • ‘He murmured something softly, but I had already left the room.’
    • ‘‘It's alright ’, she murmured, her voice strained and hollow, even to her.’
    • ‘His face turned bright red as he began to murmur an answer while staring at her sheet.’
    • ‘He groaned, and almost dreamily began to murmur to himself, ‘You'll show her.’’
    • ‘‘And here is where the real war begins,’ she murmured, opening the drawer of her desk.’
    • ‘The other woman, her voice lower, murmured some words of consolation to her friend.’
    • ‘She buried her face into the curve of my neck and hugged me tightly, her soft voice murmuring that everything would be okay.’
    • ‘He kisses me softly on the forehead and murmurs; ‘Let's go.’’
    • ‘A hand stroked my hair and the voice murmured reassurances.’
    • ‘I am so caught up in thinking about the stark contrast that I don't hear the voices murmuring softly behind the door.’
    1. 1.1no object Make a low continuous sound.
      ‘the wind was murmuring through the trees’
      • ‘The air was luminous; a faint south wind murmured in the pine tops.’
      • ‘If you listen long enough, you could swear you hear the trees talking, murmuring to themselves as they stand stoically in the teeth of the storm.’
      • ‘The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander n abysses of solitude.’
      • ‘You will have just the sound of the wilderness, the wind murmuring through the trees and the sound of your reel as another big fish bends your stick while you and other members of your family who fish enjoy some great sport.’
      • ‘The sea is remarkably beautiful, turquoise blue and fawn at times, it rages, murmurs, sighs and sings.’
      • ‘The audience was murmuring, but Gwion continued with his speech.’
      mutter, mumble, whisper, talk under one's breath, speak in an undertone, speak softly, speak sotto voce, speak in hushed tones
      rustle, whir, burble, purl, rumble, sigh
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Say something cautiously and discreetly.
      no object ‘they began to murmur of an uprising’
      • ‘As soon as the carriage left the inn yard, she had begun murmuring about the speed of the trip.’
      • ‘The audience began to murmur as the election story unfolded on the screen.’
      • ‘Many in the crowd began to murmur their dissent at this.’
      • ‘Students began murmuring again, debating the relationship between the two.’
      • ‘Over time, the agreeable questioning seemed to stimulate unrest in the audience, which began to murmur its displeasure.’
    3. 1.3murmur againstarchaic no object Express one's discontent about (someone or something) in a subdued manner.
      • ‘The murmurs against Bruno's physical and mental stamina had already begun.’
      • ‘But the scribes and the Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’’
      complain, moan, mutter, grumble, grouse, carp, whine, bleat
      View synonyms


  • without a murmur

    • Without complaining.

      • ‘Many would have expected the matter to have been discussed at last month's county board meeting but it was passed over by delegates without a murmur, with the post left vacant.’
      • ‘Sure, I had to empty the hopper rather more frequently, and ended up with two sacks of cuttings rather than one, but the mower handled the job of cutting two week's growth without a murmur.’
      • ‘And in both airports, the Swiss army knife on my keychain in my purse went through without a murmur.’
      • ‘Without mum to say they won't eat potatoes they will probably do what you suggest without a murmur.’
      • ‘I was now ready to bear whatever might ensue without a murmur.’
      • ‘Marjorie seems to accept the new arrangement without a murmur.’
      • ‘When Antoninus died on 7 March 161, Marcus Aurelius succeeded without a murmur from either the army or the Senate.’
      • ‘This deal would have gone through without a murmur if we hadn't fought back.’
      • ‘The teacher was Ok, though, and she accepted my excuse of being lost without a murmur.’
      • ‘She was punctual and would work overtime without a murmur.’


Late Middle English: from Old French murmure, from murmurer ‘to murmur’, from Latin murmurare, from murmur ‘a murmur’.