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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.
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.
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!
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.
in a pig's whisper
Very quickly; in a very short amount of time. Sorry for the wait. Your lunch will be out in a pig's whisper.
See also: 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.
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.
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]
A deliberate spreading of derogatory rumors about a candidate, as in That whispering campaign destroyed his chances for election. [c. 1920]