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Chinese whispers

1. A game played between a group of people in which a story or message is told by one person in secret to another, who then retells it to the next, and so on, with the resulting end message usually differing widely (and often amusingly) from the original. It can be considered a pejorative term, so discretion is advised. Primarily heard in UK. Chinese whispers is a great game—it's always hilarious to see what the last person has interpreted by the end!
2. Any information or gossip that has been spread and retold by multiple parties, thus obfuscating, distorting, or exaggerating the original information. A somewhat pejorative term, it takes its name from the party game described above. Primarily heard in UK. The firm's CEO denounced the rumors of impending layoffs as being nothing more than Chinese whispers. It's a common occurrence that sensationalist news headlines devolve into Chinese whispers, thus leading a large number of people to accept misinformation as fact.
See also: Chinese, whisper

whisper sweet nothings

To murmur words of affection to someone in a flirtatious manner. These words may be genuine or less serious. My ex-boyfriend used to whisper sweet nothings to me and then sneak out with his mistress later! At the prom, I watched all the couples around me whispering sweet nothings to each other as they danced.
See also: nothing, sweet, whisper

whisper sweet nothings in (one's) ear

To murmur words of affection to someone in a flirtatious manner. These words may be genuine or less serious. My ex-boyfriend used to whisper sweet nothings in my ear and then sneak out with his mistress later!
See also: ear, nothing, sweet, whisper

whispering campaign

The spread of rumors, with the intent of damaging a person's reputation The whispering campaign that the opposition has launched against me is just awful! I haven't done any of the things they've claimed! I'm always skeptical of the terrible allegations that come out in these whispering campaigns.
See also: campaign, whisper

in a stage whisper

Fig. in a loud whisper that everyone can hear. John said in a stage whisper, "This play is boring." "When do we eat?" asked Billy in a stage whisper.
See also: stage, whisper

whisper about someone or something

to speak about someone or something in a quiet, breathy voice, as if telling secrets. I hope they aren't whispering about me. Everyone is whispering about the incident in the lunchroom.
See also: whisper

whisper something around

to spread secrets or gossip around. Now, don't whisper this around, but Sam is going to run away from home. If you whisper this around, you will spoil the surprise.
See also: around, whisper

stage whisper

A whisper loud enough to be overheard, as in Our three-year-old behaved beautifully at the ceremony, but then he asked in a stage whisper, "Why does that lady have blue hair?" This expression alludes to an actor's whisper on stage, which is meant to be heard by the audience. [Mid-1800s]
See also: stage, whisper

whispering campaign

A deliberate spreading of derogatory rumors about a candidate, as in That whispering campaign destroyed his chances for election. [c. 1920]
See also: campaign, whisper
References in classic literature ?
And in the same whisper, as if we two whenever we talked had to say things to each other which were not fit for the world to hear, he added, "It's very wonderful.
From first to last"--and for the first time there seemed to be a faltering, something strained in his whisper.
I hear," said the prince in a whisper, his eyes fixed on Rogojin.
After delivering himself thus in a stern whisper, strained almost to extinction, he drove on, ruminating solemnly.
It's done in a minute,' said Sikes, in the same low whisper.
Although Whispers of the Wolf is a fictional children's picturebook, it accurately portrays details of Pueblo culture, language, and traditions 500 years ago.
Netto, author of the best-selling book series, The Whispers of the Fallen, is set to release the third installment of the series, THE WHISPERS OF THE FALLEN: THE GATHERING OF SHADOWS, this Halloween.
THE Loudest Whisper united people from across Stockton as they took part in the world's largest ever game of Chinese Whispers.
Classically trained pianist Dan Chadburn presents Whispers the Falling Snow, an instrumental, solo piano album in tribute to the joys of the winter season.
Tenders are invited for Printing and binding of Whispers and Shadows A Naturalist%s Memoir.
AT HIJINX we've been getting into the Christmas spirit, preparing for our production of Whispers on the Waves by Philip Michell.
It's the old party game where someone whispers a message that is passed on around the room and it turns out something completely different by the time it's received by the last person.
WHISPERS FROM THE WOODS: THE LORE AND MAGIC OF TREES could also have appeared in our New Age section but is featured here for its interest to any studying botany as well.
Soft light, hushed whispers, innocence, nostalgia, hope.
But he also overhears something else--the whispers of evil.