The word "noise" inherently has a negative meaning: an uncertainty in measurements, or an assortment of annoying background sounds.

What word or term can be used when a "noise" is intentionally produced, for example, the running of an engine, the sounds of a marketplace, or the sound of the wind and birds, etc. to provide a specific mood.

  • You mean a background noise?
    – user66974
    Dec 16, 2014 at 14:46
  • 3
    You're misusing the word 'intentional/ly' here. The noise of a wind hardly demonstrates intent, and the idea that intent (to produce a noise) always applies where engines are concerned is almost certainly wrong. In many cases, muffling is used. And while Jeremy Clarkson might find a loud exhaust noise attractive, many others wouldn't. Dec 16, 2014 at 15:06
  • 4
    Simply sound would be a quite neutral alternative.
    – Tim S.
    Dec 16, 2014 at 17:47
  • @EdwinAshworth : I was meaning producing it artificially, for example, electronically.
    – vsz
    Dec 16, 2014 at 17:49
  • 1
    @Joshua Taylor Recorded sounds being played, or mimicked (eg by a wind machine) rather than produced in the first instance. I'd like to see/hear someone produce actual bird song with the intention of creating an atmosphere. Dec 16, 2014 at 22:54

6 Answers 6


It is sometimes called background, ambient, or bioacoustic noise:

Examples of background noises are environmental noises such as waves, traffic noise, alarms, people talking, bioacoustic noise from animals or birds and mechanical noise from devices such as refrigerators or air conditioning, power supplies or motors.

Environmental noise

Noise at low levels is not necessarily harmful; environmental noise can also convey a sense of liveliness in an area, and is not then always considered 'unwanted'.

Source: Wikipedia


I can't think of any common word describing just that. You could use other, more specific words like murmur or rustle, depending on which sound you're trying to describe.

  • As Matthew Arnold wrote in the Scholar-Gipsy: "All the live murmur of a summer's day" Dec 16, 2014 at 14:55

Consider phrasing your sentence in a way that frames the noise with a positive connotation. E.g.,

  • A whispered hush of autumn leaves in wind
  • The vibrant chirping of spring robins
  • The gently breathing susurrus of the tide upon the shore

You could also use an an adjective, describing the sound as "musical" or "euphonic."


"Music" is what it is if you like the sound. A broker hears "the music of the marketplace", a naturalist hears "the music of the wind and the birds". Even an auto mechanic might hear "the music of the lifters, clattering harmony with the soft whistle of the fan belt."


The word you are after is euphony, which Merriam-Webster defines as follows:

1 : pleasing or sweet sound; especially : the acoustic effect produced by words so formed or combined as to please the ear

2 : a harmonious succession of words having a pleasing sound


Such a noise could be termed "cacophony"-a mishmash of unpleasant sounds.

A type of dissonance, a jarring, discordant mix of sounds that have no business being together.

Since we are used to the discord, it does not sound annoying.

  • The question clearly states that it is not annoying. I can't imagine how this term could describe anything that is not found to be annoying... hence "jarring" in the definition.
    – Catija
    Jun 2, 2015 at 20:15

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