Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
1. Literally, in theater performance, speech that is loud enough to be heard by the audience but that has the hushed affectation of a whisper. I think you should say the line in a stage whisper, since you're supposed to be attending a funeral in the scene.
2. By extension, an exaggerated whisper that is loud enough to be overheard by other people. He leaned over to me during the meeting and said in this really smug stage whisper, "And that's why Steve's the boss!"
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
A whisper intended to be heard by one and all. In the theater this term literally meant an aside—a thought spoken aloud—communicated to the audience and allegedly unheard by the other actors on stage. It dates from the mid-nineteenth century and by 1900 or so was employed figuratively. J. V. McIlwraith used it in Kinsmen at War (1927): “Mrs. Secord spoke in a stage whisper.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer