\ ˈᵊm How to pronounce hmm (audio) , ˈhᵊm, often with a prolonged syllabic m \
variants: or less commonly hm or hmmm

Definition of hmm

1 used to express the action or process of thinkingLet's get one question out of the way immediately … : does Spike Lee like to cause trouble? "Hmm," he says, sighing. "Yeah, I guess you could call me an instigator."— Patrick DemarchelierAs an undergraduate, I settled on history, and diplomatic history, because I had a really cool professor. I was thinking, Hmmm, I wonder how you get to be a diplomat?— Julia Wilkinson
2 used to emphasize that one has asked a question and is awaiting an answerBut tell Santa the truth now, what's the most important part to a little boy or girl? The box? The wrapping paper? Or the game that comes in the box? Hmmm? It's the present, of course.— Mark Newman
3 used to request repetition or clarification of something just said"So tell me," I said. "To what do I owe the pleasure?" "Hmm?" "What brings you here?"— David Housewright

First Known Use of hmm

1854, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Cite this Entry

“Hmm.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hmm. Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for hmm

How to pronounce hmm (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of hmm

used to represent a sound made by someone who is thinking about what to say or do

Comments on hmm

What made you want to look up hmm? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


good-natured easy friendliness

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