\ ˈhəm How to pronounce hum (audio) \
hummed; humming

Definition of hum

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to utter a sound like that of the speech sound \m\ prolonged humming along with the music
b : to make the natural noise of an insect in motion or a similar sound : drone listening to the bees hum in the garden
c : to give forth a low continuous blend of sound the sound of children's voices with which the house was always humming— J. M. Brinnin
2a : to be busily active the museum hummed with visitors
b : to run smoothly the business started to hum

transitive verb

1 : to sing with the lips closed and without uttering speech sounds distinctly hum a tune
2 : to express by making a vocal sound with the lips pressed together : to affect by humming hummed his displeasure


Definition of hum (Entry 2 of 2)

chiefly British spelling of , hem entry 4

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Other Words from hum


hum noun
hummable \ ˈhə-​mə-​bəl How to pronounce hummable (audio) \ adjective

Examples of hum in a Sentence

Verb The garden was humming with bees. The refrigerator hummed in the background. I was humming to myself. We hummed along to the music. I hummed a little song. By noon, the office was really humming. The restaurant hums on weekends.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Clouds linger, and the grass hums with the sound of thousands of mosquitos’ wings, batting against the weight of the air. Kiley Bense, Longreads, "Whose Boots on the Ground," 7 Nov. 2019 The office floors, which once hummed with conveyor belts and all manner of heavy-duty equipment, still contain corkscrewing mail chutes and other relics (like vaults and scales) that help tell the building’s story. Blair Kamin,, "Column: An exclusive look inside Chicago’s Old Post Office as the nation’s largest reuse project greets its first tenants this weekend," 17 Oct. 2019 The room hummed with conversation, a soft wall of static. Jason Fagone,, "Inside PG&E’s ‘war room,’ the chaos of shut-off week seems far away," 12 Oct. 2019 CyrusOne even has two of its own substations humming with enough energy (112 megawatts) to light up every home in Salt Lake City—or, more relevant to the matter at hand, to power several dozen 400- and 500-ton chillers. Bianca Bosker, The Atlantic, "Why Everything Is Getting Louder," 8 Oct. 2019 Business also is humming on the Alabama side at Fred Hansard’s marina, the Demopolis Yacht Basin. Washington Post, "$2B waterway through Deep South yet to yield promised boom," 16 Sep. 2019 Garoppolo and linebacker Kwon Alexander, meanwhile, are humming along well in their ACL comebacks, and they’ll be kept out of Thursday’s exhibition finale against the Los Angeles Chargers as a precautionary measure along with most starters. Cam Inman, The Mercury News, "Brace yourself, 49ers McKinnon practicing, but Street IR bound," 27 Aug. 2019 The economy is humming, with historically low unemployment levels, yet the economy is flashing warning signs, some of which have turned out to be false alarms in the recent past. Matt Phillips, New York Times, "A Year of Stock Market Fury, Signifying Nearly Nothing," 17 Aug. 2019 In the middle of the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino convention hall in Las Vegas, amid workshops on cryptography and digital defense, a hospital will soon be humming with activity—or at least a pretty good facsimile of one. Lily Hay Newman, WIRED, "A Model Hospital Where the Devices Get Hacked—on Purpose," 6 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hum.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hum


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for hum


Middle English hummen; akin to Middle High German hummen to hum, Middle Dutch hommel bumblebee

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Statistics for hum

Last Updated

13 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for hum

The first known use of hum was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for hum


How to pronounce hum (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of hum

: to make a low continuous sound
: to sing the notes of a song while keeping your lips closed
: to be very active or busy


\ ˈhəm How to pronounce hum (audio) \
hummed; humming

Kids Definition of hum

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to utter a sound like a long \m\
2 : to make the buzzing noise of a flying insect
3 : to make musical tones with closed lips
4 : to give forth a low murmur of sounds The street was humming with activity.
5 : to be very busy or active The mall hummed with shoppers.



Kids Definition of hum (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a low continuous noise the hum of bees
2 : musical tones voiced without words


\ ˈhəm How to pronounce hum (audio) \

Medical Definition of hum

: a sound like that made by humming especially : venous hum

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More from Merriam-Webster on hum

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hum

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hum

Spanish Central: Translation of hum

Nglish: Translation of hum for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hum for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about hum

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