trem·​u·​lous | \ ˈtrem-yə-ləs How to pronounce tremulous (audio) \

Definition of tremulous

1 : characterized by or affected with trembling or tremors
2 : affected with timidity : timorous
3 : such as is or might be caused by nervousness or shakiness a tremulous smile
4 : exceedingly sensitive : easily shaken or disordered

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Other Words from tremulous

tremulously adverb
tremulousness noun

Are you shaky on the meaning of tremulous?

Do you suspect that tremulous must be closely related to tremble? If so, you're right. Both of those words derive from the Latin verb tremere, which means "to tremble." Some other English offspring of tremere are tremor, tremendous,temblor (another word for earthquake), and tremolo (a term that describes a vibrating and quavering musical effect that was particularly popular for electric guitars and organs in the 1970s).

Examples of tremulous in a Sentence

She opened the letter with tremulous hands. He spoke with a tremulous voice.
Recent Examples on the Web But the magic of Mahler — in his hush, in high strings creating a tremulous, vibratory atmosphere — is to reveal this as a mystical place. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, "Miss the ecstasy and extravagance of Mahler’s Eighth? You’re not alone," 28 Oct. 2020 But amidst these bolder insistences comes a tremulous query, repeated with a slight, gentle halter. Rachelvoronacote, Longreads, "Carly Rae Jepsen’s Exhilarating, Emotionally Intelligent Pop Music," 10 Aug. 2020 So could Trump’s hesitant gait and tremulous water-sipping indicate a neurological disorder? Adam Rogers, Wired, "No, You Don't Need to See President Trump's Medical Records," 19 June 2020 Their tremulous, tentative courtship leads to a disaster of a wedding night. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, "Home theater: From ‘Brooklyn’ to ‘Little Women,’ settle in with Saoirse Ronan," 6 May 2020 There is a tonal ambiguity to the bumptious romantic pursuit that follows, a surprisingly tremulous and fragile air, which may be what dismayed critics who were expecting a more conventional drama. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "Revisiting “Moment by Moment,” Lily Tomlin and John Travolta’s Wrongly Despised 1978 Melodrama," 9 Sep. 2019 Youmans films his characters’ landscape with an eye that’s both rapturous and tremulous, frankly confrontational and tensely terrified. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "What to Stream This Weekend: “Burning Cane”," 9 Nov. 2019 Hayward—a principal ballerina at the Royal Ballet, in London—brings a tremulous spontaneity and fragile wonder to the role of Victoria. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“Cats” Could Have Been a Contender," 27 Dec. 2019 As the music shifted into passages of velvety richness and tremulous sonorities, Mr. Nézet-Séguin drew out Impressionist colorings and harmonic pungencies. New York Times, "Yannick Nézet-Séguin Leads a Revelatory ‘Turandot’," 4 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tremulous.' 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 tremulous

1611, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tremulous

Latin tremulus — more at tremble

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Time Traveler for tremulous

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The first known use of tremulous was in 1611

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Cite this Entry

“Tremulous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce tremulous (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tremulous

formal + literary
: shaking slightly especially because of nervousness, weakness, or illness
: feeling or showing a lack of confidence or courage


trem·​u·​lous | \ ˈtre-myə-ləs How to pronounce tremulous (audio) \

Kids Definition of tremulous

1 : marked by trembling or shaking … quite near him were two rabbits sitting up and sniffing with tremulous noses …— Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden


trem·​u·​lous | \ ˈtrem-yə-ləs How to pronounce tremulous (audio) \

Medical Definition of tremulous

: characterized by or affected with trembling or tremors

Other Words from tremulous

tremulousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on tremulous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tremulous

Nglish: Translation of tremulous for Spanish Speakers

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