Etymology
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whisper (v.)
Old English hwisprian "speak very softly, murmur" (only in a Northumbrian gloss for Latin murmurare), from Proto-Germanic *hwis- (source also of Middle Dutch wispelen, Old High German hwispalon, German wispeln, wispern, Old Norse hviskra "to whisper"), from PIE *kwei- "to hiss, whistle," imitative. Transitive sense is from 1560s. Related: Whispered; whispering. An alternative verb, now obsolete, was whister (late 14c., from Old English hwæstrian), and Middle English had whistringe grucchere "a slanderer."
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whispering (n.)
Old English hwisprung, verbal noun from hwisprian (see whisper (v.)).
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whistle (v.)
Old English hwistlian "to whistle," from Proto-Germanic *hwis-, of imitative origin (source also of Old Norse hvisla "to whisper," Danish hvisle "to hiss;" see whisper (v.)). Used also in Middle English of the hissing of serpents; in 17c. it also could mean "whisper." Transitive use from late 15c. Related: Whistled; whistling. At public events, often an expression of support or encouragement in U.S., but often derisive in Britain. To whistle for (with small prospect of getting) is perhaps from nautical whistling for a wind, an old sailor's superstition during a calm. "Such men will not whistle during a storm" [Century Dictionary]. To whistle "Dixie" is from 1940.
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susurration (n.)

"a whispering, a murmur," c. 1400, from Latin susurrationem (nominative susurratio), from past participle stem of susurrare "to hum, murmur," from susurrus "a murmur, whisper," a reduplication of the PIE imitative *swer- "to buzz, whisper" (source also of Sanskrit svarati "sounds, resounds," Greek syrinx "flute," Latin surdus "dull, mute," Old Church Slavonic svirati "to whistle," Lithuanian surma "pipe, shawm," German schwirren "to buzz," Old English swearm "a swarm").

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assibilate (v.)
in language, "to change to a hissing sound," 1844, from assimilated form of ad- "to" + sibilant (n.) "hissing sound." Latin assibilare meant "to whisper to." Related: Assibilated; assibilating; assibilation (1850, by 1828 in German, translating Ansausung).
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absurd (adj.)
Origin and meaning of absurd

"plainly illogical," 1550s, from French absurde (16c.), from Latin absurdus "out of tune, discordant;" figuratively "incongruous, foolish, silly, senseless," from ab- "off, away from," here perhaps an intensive prefix, + surdus "dull, deaf, mute," which is possibly from an imitative PIE root meaning "to buzz, whisper" (see susurration). Thus the basic sense is perhaps "out of tune," but de Vaan writes, "Since 'deaf' often has two semantic sides, viz. 'who cannot hear' and 'who is not heard,' ab-surdus can be explained as 'which is unheard of' ..." The modern English sense is the Latin figurative one, perhaps "out of harmony with reason or propriety." Related: Absurdly; absurdness.

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swarm (n.)

"cloud of bees or other insects," Old English swearm "swarm, multitude," from Proto-Germanic *swarmaz (source also of Old Saxon, Middle Low German swarm, Danish sværm "a swarm," Swedish svärm, Middle Dutch swerm, Old High German swaram, German Schwarm "swarm;" Old Norse svarmr "tumult"), by Watkins, etc., derived from PIE imitative root *swer- "to buzz, whisper" (see susurration) on notion of humming sound, and thus probably originally of bees. But OED suggests possible connection with base of swerve and ground sense of "agitated, confused, or deflected motion." General sense "large, dense throng" is from early 15c.

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talk (v.)

c. 1200, talken, probably a diminutive or frequentative form related to Middle English tale "story," and ultimately from the same source as tale (q.v.), with rare English formative -k (compare hark from hear, stalk from steal, smirk from smile) and replacing that word as a verb. East Frisian has talken "to talk, chatter, whisper." Related: Talked; talking.

To talk (something) up "discuss in order to promote" is from 1722. To talk shop is from 1854. To talk turkey is from 1824, supposedly from an elaborate joke about a swindled Indian.

Phrase talking head is by 1966 in the jargon of television production, "an in-tight closeup of a human head talking on television." In reference to a person who habitually appears on television in talking-head shots (usually a news anchor), by 1970. The phrase is used earlier, in reference to the well-known magic trick (such as Señor Wences's talking head-in-the-box "Pedro" on the "Ed Sullivan Show"), and to actual talking heads in mythology around the world (Orpheus, Bran).

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rune (n.)

a modern book-form to represent Old English run, rune "secret, mystery, dark mysterious statement, (secret) council," also "a runic letter" (runstæf), from Proto-Germanic *runo (source also of Old Norse run "a secret, magic sign, runic character," Old High German runa "a secret conversation, whisper," Gothic runa), from PIE *ru-no-, source of technical terms of magic in Germanic and Celtic (source also of Gaelic run "a secret, mystery, craft, deceit, purpose, intention, desire," Welsh rhin "a secret, charm, virtue"). Also see Runnymede.

The word entered Middle English as roun and by normal evolution would have become Modern English *rown, but it died out mid-15c. when the use of runes did. The modern usage is from late 17c., from German philologists who had reintroduced the word in their writings from a Scandinavian source (such as Danish rune, from Old Norse run).

The presumption often is that the magical sense was the original one in the word and the use of runes as letters was secondary to ancient Germanic peoples, but this is questioned by some linguists. The runic alphabet itself is believed to have developed by 2c. C.E. from contact with Greek writing, with the letters modified to be more easily cut into wood or stone. Related: Runed; runecraft.

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