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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 periodicals archive ?
lyrical interchanges and whispery lifts were over before one realized
The walls of whispery blue and the soft, understated carpet, donated by Jimmy Lyles Carpets, complemented the rich Mississippi landscapes of vibrant greens, smokey amethyst shadows, and brilliant citrine, creating an illusion of space in a room barely over eleven feet wide.
Or the sound of the resistance, it had dried some by then it wanted to stay by the time I had changed my mind as we say, urgent, whispery little noise it made I was leaning close breathing the dust I made like a request for money a hopeless desperate request a psst, pssst, cht, cht, cht, or like the character, in the story taken slowly in front of us structurally apart "for meaning," revealing the "secret shame" on which the whole plot, discovered now, down to the bare worn or what hunger behind the wainscoting and I stepped back imaginary hat in my imaginary hands so to speak and frowning in this light hurry changing grave pressing import signify tell no one telling urgent hissed voiced youarenot youarenot youarenot or theytheytheytheytheythey won't.
As a result, the voices of these individuals often sound weak, quiet and breathy or whispery.
When I recall my first encounter with the high plains of eastern Montana along the Missouri River 2 5 years ago, it is the sound of the wind as it moved through the grass that makes the memory real, a sound unlike any other I had ever heard, wild and whispery, as if it carried stories beyond human comprehension.
In low whispery voices, the multiple narrators address us, their words sometimes relating specifically to what we are seeing (Solomon describing his memory of the tornado's effect on Xenia as we are shown what looks like actual tv footage of the event); at other times, the connection between narration and image is less specific (a female voice recounts a childhood memory of incest while the visual is of an older girl playing in a puddle).
The pounding and whispery noises work on his mind, recalling for him the nasty rape of Temple.
In a dramatic and whispery voice, Rather describes the scene and the urgency of the rebels' remaining undetected by the enemy below.
Rich with color, velvety tones as deep as night, rendezvous with whispery moonglow shimmers for an effect that is at once plush and ethereal.
She said: "I took singing lessons but it was difficult to project and yet be whispery and sexy at the same time.
Gilberto turned 'Harvest Moon' into a whispery bossa nova that savored every bit of its romance.
Allen's whispery delivery alongside a wishy-washy mix of ticking percussion and smoldering synths makes her sound like she's ready for nap-time, not a second-wind.
There are businessmen in clandestine whispery meetings and tourists relaxing after a long day exploring the streets and, by the looks of the bags, the shops in this fine city.
Her whispery folk is a reminiscent segue of Cat Power and Joanna Newsom, and if clambering label attention and radio airplay are a barometer of future success, she's on the cusp of proper greatness.
A soft, whispery, musical voice caressing every bell-like consonant and feathery vowel.