Meaning of SOUND in English


I. sound 1 S1 W1 /saʊnd/ BrE AmE noun

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: son , from Latin sonus ]

1 . [uncountable and countable] something that you hear, or what can be heard SYN noise :

There were strange sounds coming from the next room.

sound of

She could hear the sound of voices.

a vowel sound

2 . [uncountable]

a) the sound produced by a television or radio programme, a film etc:

We apologize for the loss of sound during that report.

a sound engineer

b) the loudness of a television, radio, film etc SYN volume

turn the sound down/up

Turn the sound down a little, will you?

3 . [countable usually singular, uncountable] the particular quality that a singer’s or group’s music has:

We’re trying to develop a harder, funkier sound.

4 . by/from the sound of it/things judging from what you have heard or read about something:

By the sound of it, things are worse than we thought.

5 . not like the sound of something to feel worried by something that you have heard or read:

‘There’s been a slight change in our plans.’ ‘I don’t like the sound of that.’

6 . sounds [plural] British English informal songs or music that are on a record, ↑ CD , or tape:

I need to buy some new sounds.

7 . [countable usually singular] a narrow area of water that connects two larger areas of water

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■ adjectives

▪ loud

There was a loud creaking sound and the branch snapped.

▪ faint/soft (=not loud)

The sound was so faint I wasn’t sure what it was at first.

▪ deafening (=very loud)

The sound of the waterfall was deafening.

▪ distinctive/unmistakable

Suddenly from below came the unmistakable sound of gunfire.

▪ a strange sound

I heard a strange sound coming from outside.

▪ a familiar sound

Suddenly she heard the familiar sound of the key being turned in the front door.

▪ a distant sound (=a long way away)

All seemed quiet, but for the distant sound of police sirens.

▪ a muffled sound (=not clear)

Now there were muffled sounds of movement.

▪ a banging/tearing/hissing etc sound

There was an odd buzzing sound in her ears.

■ verbs

▪ hear a sound

She heard the sound of a car starting.

▪ make a sound

The machine made a strange hissing sound.

▪ not make a sound (=be completely quiet)

He lay still and didn’t make a sound.

▪ a sound comes from somewhere

The sounds seemed to be coming from the study below.

▪ sound travels

Light travels faster than sound.

▪ sound carries (=can be heard some distance away)

I knew the sound of the horn would would carry for miles.

▪ a sound stops

The sound stopped suddenly.

▪ a sound dies away (=stops gradually)

I listened until the sound had died away completely.


► Do not say ' a strong sound '. Say a loud sound .

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■ a high sound

▪ squeak a very short high sound or cry:

I heard the squeak of his shoes on the tiled floor.


Annie gave a squeak of surprise.

▪ creak a long high sound that something makes when someone opens it, walks on it, sits on it etc - used especially about a door, wooden floor, bed, or stairs:

the creak of floorboards


The door opened with a creak.

▪ screech a loud, long, unpleasantly high sound - used especially about someone’s voice, or about brakes, tyres etc:

There was a screech of tyres followed by a bang.


She let out a screech of horror.

▪ beep ( also bleep British English ) a high electronic sound that a machine sends out, especially in order to attract someone’s attention:

You’ll hear a bleep when the photocopier’s finished printing.

■ a quiet sound

▪ hum a quiet low continuous sound, especially from electrical equipment, traffic, an engine, or people’s conversation:

The only sound was the faint hum of the air-conditioning unit.


He could hear the hum of distant traffic.

▪ rustle a continuous quiet sound from papers, leaves, or clothes when they rub together:

She heard the rustle of dried leaves behind her.


the rustle of silk dresses

▪ murmur a quiet low continuous sound, especially from people’s voices that are far away:

The murmur of voices died away.


They spoke in a low murmur.

▪ rumble a series of long low sounds, especially from big guns, traffic, or ↑ thunder :

I heard a rumble of thunder.


the low rumble of a train approaching

■ made by a liquid

▪ splash the sound that a liquid makes when something hits it, or when it hits against another thing:

She jumped into the pool with a big splash.


the splash of the waves against the rocks

▪ gurgle the low sound that water makes when it flows gently over or through something:

the gurgle of a stream


She listened to the gurgle as the water drained out of the bath.

▪ plop the sudden short sound when something is dropped into a liquid:

Kate dropped the ice into her glass with a plop.

■ made by air or gas

▪ hiss a continuous high sound when air or gas comes out of something:

There was a hiss of steam from the coffee machine.


Workers reported hearing a loud hiss moments before the explosion.

■ made by an explosion, gun etc

▪ bang a short sudden loud noise made by a gun, bomb etc:

There was a loud bang as the bomb exploded.


The firework went off with a bang.

▪ boom a very loud sound from an explosion, which you can hear for several seconds after it begins:

The building exploded into rubble with a loud boom.


The boom of artillery fire echoed in the distance.

▪ roar a continuous very loud noise that gets louder and continues for a long time:

The light was followed by the deafening roar of explosions.


the roar of the ship’s guns

■ made by things hitting other things

▪ bang a loud sound caused especially when something hard or heavy hits something else:

I heard a loud bang and rushed out to see what had happened.


He slammed the door shut with a bang.

▪ crash a very loud sound caused when something hits something else, especially when damage is caused:

The tray of dishes fell to the floor with a crash.


I heard an enormous crash outside our house, and I went to see what had happened.

▪ thud a quiet low sound made when a heavy object falls down onto surface:

There was a dull thud as the box hit the floor.


His head hit the ground with a sickening thud.

▪ thump a dull loud sound made when a heavy object hits something else:

There was a loud thump as Eddie threw Luther back against the wall.

▪ clink a short ringing sound made when two glass, metal, or china objects hit each other:

the clink of champagne glasses


The clink of cutlery could be heard in the restaurant.

▪ tinkle the pleasant sound that is made by light pieces of glass or metal hitting each other repeatedly:

He listened to the faint tinkle of cow bells in the distance.

▪ jingle the sound of small metal objects being shaken together:

the jingle of her bracelets


the jingle of keys

▪ rattle a short repeated sound made when things hit against each other - used especially when part of something is loose and is hitting against something:

There was a strange rattle coming from the engine.


the rattle of the trolley

II. sound 2 S1 W2 BrE AmE verb

[ Sense 1-5: Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: soner , from Latin sonare , from sonus ; ⇨ ↑ sound 1 ]

[ Sense 7: Date: 1300-1400 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: sonder , from sonde 'line for measuring the depth of water' ]

1 . SEEM [linking verb] if something or someone sounds good, bad, strange etc, that is how they seem to you when you hear about them or read about them

sound adj

Istanbul sounds really exciting.

The whole story sounded very odd.

$80 sounds about right for a decent hotel room.

sound noun British English :

That sounds a good idea.

sound like

Nick sounds like a nice guy.

it sounds as if/as though

It sounds to me as if he needs professional help.

it sounds like informal :

It sounds like you had a good time on your trip.

I’ll come over to Richmond and take you out for dinner. How does that sound (=used to ask someone what they think of your suggestion) ?

faraway places with strange-sounding names

2 . NOISE [linking verb] if a noise sounds like a particular thing, that is how it seems to you when you hear it

sound like

To Thomas, her laugh sounded horribly like a growl.

I heard what sounded like fireworks.

sound adj

Her breathing sounded very loud.

(it) sounds as if/as though

The banging sounded as if it was coming from next door.

(it) sounds like informal :

It sounds like the dog wants to be let out.

3 . VOICE [linking verb] if someone sounds tired, happy, sad etc, that is how they seem to you when you hear their voice

sound adj

Are you okay? You sound tired.

Josie didn’t sound very keen when I spoke to her.

Her voice sounded very young.

sound as if/as though

You sound as if you’ve got a cold.

sound like informal :

She sounded like she’d been crying.

sound like

You sound just like my mother (=the things you say, opinions you express etc are just like the things my mother says) .

4 . WARNING [transitive] to publicly give a warning or tell people to be careful:

Several earlier studies had sounded similar warnings.

sound a note of caution/warning

I would, however, sound a note of caution.

Now it is an American economist who is sounding the alarm.

5 . MAKE A NOISE [intransitive and transitive] if something such as a horn or bell sounds, or if you sound it, it makes a noise:

The bell sounded for dinner.

Sound your horn to warn other drivers.

She was unable to sound the alarm.

6 . PRONOUNCE [transitive usually passive] technical to make the sound of a letter in a word:

The ‘s’ in ‘island’ is not sounded.

7 . MEASURE DEPTH [transitive] technical to measure the depth of the sea, a lake etc ⇨ soundings

sound off phrasal verb

1 . informal to express strong opinions about something, especially when you complain angrily in a way that other people find rude or boring

sound off about

She’s always sounding off about too much sex in the media.

He should check his facts before sounding off.

2 . American English if soldiers sound off, they shout out numbers or their names to show that they are there

sound somebody/something ↔ out phrasal verb

to talk to someone in order to find out what they think about a plan or idea:

He sounded people out and found the responses favourable.

They want to sound out his opinion before they approach him formally.

sound somebody/something ↔ out about

I wanted to sound her out about a job that I'm thinking of applying for.

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▪ appear a more formal word for ‘seem’:

These reports appear to be unfounded.

▪ look to seem to be something, often because of what can be seen:

The future looks bleak.


He looked pleased.

▪ sound used to say that something or someone seems to be something because of what you have heard or read about them, or because of the noise or voice that you hear:

This study sounds very ambitious.


They heard what sounded like a blow.

▪ come across as something to seem to have particular qualities:

He comes across as a very sensitive man.

III. sound 3 W3 BrE AmE adjective

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: gesund ]

1 . WELL-JUDGED sensible or good, and likely to produce the right results OPP poor :

The book is full of sound advice.

a man of great integrity and sound judgement

ecologically/ideologically/theoretically etc sound

environmentally sound farming practices

a sound investment

2 . PERSON British English

a) someone who is sound can be depended on to make good decisions and give good advice

sound on

He’s very sound on matters of law.

b) informal someone who is sound is a good person and can be trusted – used especially by young people:

My mum’s sound. She’d never throw me out.

3 . THOROUGH [only before noun] complete and thorough:

a sound understanding of money and banking systems

a sound knowledge of English

He has a sound grasp of European history.

4 . IN GOOD CONDITION in good condition and not damaged in any way OPP unsound :

The floor was completely sound.

Is the building structurally sound?

sound as a bell British English spoken (=in perfect condition)

5 . HEALTHY physically or mentally healthy OPP unsound

of sound mind law (=not mentally ill)

sound as a bell British English spoken (=in perfect health)

6 . SLEEP sound sleep is deep and peaceful

sound sleeper (=someone who always sleeps well)

—soundness noun [uncountable]

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■ nouns

▪ sound advice

He gave us some sound advice.

▪ sound judgement

He was beginning to rely on her sound judgement.

▪ a sound reason

Both these buyers have sound reasons for their choice.

▪ a sound investment

Property is usually a sound investment.

▪ a sound policy

The problems of industry will only be solved by sound economic policies.

▪ a sound basis

Sometimes friendship is a sound basis for a good marriage.

■ adverbs

▪ environmentally/ecologically sound

The government encourages environmentally sound management of the countryside.

▪ ideologically sound (=good, according to a set of beliefs)

It was the ideologically sound thing to do.

▪ scientifically/technically sound

Are these studies scientifically sound?

IV. sound 4 BrE AmE adverb

sound asleep deeply asleep:

The baby was sound asleep.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.