vocal fry


: a vocal effect produced by very slow vibration of the vocal cords and characterized by a creaking sound and low pitch

Note: As with other kinds of laryngealization, vocal fry is produced by constricting the larynx. The effect is used typically at the ends of phrases and sentences.

… the professors said they had found evidence of a new trend among female college students: a guttural fluttering of the vocal cords they called "vocal fry." A classic example of vocal fry, best described as a raspy or croaking sound injected (usually) at the end of a sentence, can be heard when Mae West says, "Why don't you come up sometime and see me" …Douglas Quenqua, New York Times, 28 Feb. 2012
Oh vocal fry … that gravelly, "is she hungover?" tone you hear when Britney Spears and Emma Stone speak. It's widespread among young women, but it doesn't project clarity or confidence in the workplace.Annie Tomlin, Cosmopolitan, February 2014

called also creaky voice

Word History

First Known Use

1963, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of vocal fry was in 1963

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

Dictionary Entries Near vocal fry

Cite this Entry

“Vocal fry.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vocal%20fry. Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!