The idea behind something appearing is more visual in nature; it comes into sight.

What would I say if something "appeared audibly"? The sound of the oncoming car appeared to my ears!

Synonyms for appear all seem to stick to visual, material, or abstract concepts; nothing for auditory elements stand out.

  • 1
    This comment is not intended as a criticism for your question: macmillandictionary.com/us/thesaurus-category/american/…
    – Lumberjack
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 16:26
  • 13
    A sight appears - and is then seen. A sound sounds - and is then heard.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 3:46
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    ^ lol classic example of a comment that should have been an answer Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 5:08
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    Not sure that appear means to come into visual "consciousness"; perhaps: appear means to come into view. And perhaps you mean to become aware of a sound or sight. Visual awareness.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 13:18
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    @NigelJ aha! See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil! If a tree falls in the forest ....
    – lbf
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 14:48

13 Answers 13


Stick with simplicity. I propose go.(Oxford, sense 4.2)

Make a sound of a specified kind:

the engine went bang

The elevator went ping and the doors opened.

It was dark. I couldn't see anything. Suddenly, I heard a gun go bang.

Speaking of guns, go off is related:

(Of a gun, bomb, or similar device) explode or fire:

(Of an alarm) begin to sound.

And then, I heard an alarm go off in the distance.

In case you're not still convinced, watch this.


Assuming you're asking for the sound equivalent of:

A light appeared in the forest


to become manifest : become known

  • A sound emerged from the forest
  • 1
    and emergence is not registered till heard
    – lbf
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 14:44
  • @lbf, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"
    – user28434
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 14:49
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    @user28434 ... most certainty. you though may not hear it!
    – lbf
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 14:58
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    @Ibf and appearance is not registered till seen :)
    – wrymug
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 16:54
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    Sure, it's correct usage, but I feel like this risks sounding unnatural. In my reckoning 'emerge' sounds almost volitional and is better used with beings, ideas, etc. Not only that but I feel like it applies to visual cues more than auditory ones. Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 5:18

Along with "arise" or "emerge," you could use "ring out."

"Pistol shots ring out in the barroom night."

Or, along with those, and if you aren't talking about a sound, you could use sound as a verb. Like this:

"The trumpets sounded from the other side of the room."

But maybe don't say: "The sound sounded from the other side of the room." Unless you're after that.

  • +1, I'm going to have to start using Dylan lyrics as examples.
    – Dent7777
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 18:43

A word that's sometimes used is arise. As in the line from A Visit From Saint Nicholas:

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

  • Did you write that on-the-fly?
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 19:07
  • No, I copied it from a web site. But it's so well known, I didn't think I needed to cite it.
    – Barmar
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 19:09
  • It's the first I've heard it. Still, nice to see examples which add a little something :)
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 19:11
  • Maybe because you're from India. In America it's one of the most well known Christmas poems. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Visit_from_St._Nicholas
    – Barmar
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 19:13
  • I see. Christmas sounds lovely. Wish we had it here!
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 19:16


You can have "a person appeared from behind the wall" as well as "a sound emanated from behind the wall".


Along with "emerge", you could use "arise"


a : to begin to occur or to exist : to come into being or to attention

Emerged is taking over in usage, though, vs. arose, when paired with "sound"

You might try looking up the comparison for your specific example.


To clarify the difference between verbs that reference the production or perception of a sound or image:

Like appear (and emerge), arise references the perception of its subject (to come in sight, to come into attention, to become known).

Appear, 1 a : to be or come in sight

when the sun appears on the horizon

Compare to the verb sound, which references the moment of sound production

transitive verb 1 a : to cause to sound

sound a trumpet

intransitive verb 1 a: to make a sound

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    Good call on the distinction that "sound" is different from appear ! I agree with you there that "sound" is not "able to be heard" but "production of a noise". A car approaching does not "sound" at the point you can hear it but it does appear at the point you can see it.
    – Tom22
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 18:20
  • @Tom22 I think the OP is just trying to be more precise about what sense of appear s/he is looking for. I understand to come in sight as coming into visual awareness. OED uses become visible or noticeable. You notice something visible when it comes into visual consciousness. That's my read, anyway.
    – De Novo
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 18:40

"Appear means to come into visual consciousness"


Hear means to "perceive with the ear the sound made by (someone or something)."

"Behind her she could hear men's voices"
verb: hear; 3rd person present: hears; past tense: heard; past participle: heard; gerund or present participle: hearing

  • The analogous word for 'hear' in visual context would be 'see', so I don't agree with your answer.
    – Bakabaka
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 8:59
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    +1 to hear is elegantly simple ... most other words are embellishment and matters of opinion @Bakabaka
    – lbf
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 14:42
  • @Ibf I agree that using to hear would generally make for a better sentence, since it's transitive (vs. appear, which is intransitive)
    – De Novo
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 16:54
  • hear is to see as ____ is to appear. The two do not go together. I hear the sound, I see the elephant . The bell can be heard and the elephant can be seen (but need past particle with the 'can'?). However He appeared the elephant doesn't work - the elephant appearing and it being seen are two different things.
    – Tom22
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 22:59

When used as a verb sound can mean (ODO):

Emit or cause to emit sound

[no object]: a loud buzzer sounded

[with object]: she sounded the horn

Similarly to the way to appear is used for visible objects, e.g.

A magnificent sight appeared in front of their eyes

there are examples of usage for to sound

This chiming... Which I've had sounding in my ears for ten years

from: Strindberg and the Five Senses by Hans-Goran Ekman


Another and other hoofs than Puck's sounded in my ears close ... and crushed against mo-a sharp pain smote through my chest—a roar sounded in my ears- horses seemed to be about and around me on every side, and it was all darkness.

from: London Society, Volume 8; Volume 10 James Hogg, Florence Marryat

(emphasis mine)


Fade-In; or, Coalesce

Per the OED, Fade-in is:

...the gradual... increase in the brightness or definition of a picture or the loudness of a sound.

A more poetic, if not literal, word would be Coalesce:

To bring together, merge; to combine (parts or elements) to form one whole.

Though it does not use the word Coalesce, I always think of Salieri's quote from Amadeus, which I think captures the spirit of it:

On the page it looked nothing. The beginning simple, almost comic. Just a pulse, bassoons and basset horns, like a rusty squeezebox. Then suddenly; high above it, an oboe, a single note, hanging there unwavering, till a clarinet took over and sweetened it into a phrase of such delight!

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    The fade-in nature of the a "spirit", "angel", or "entity" materializing or manifesting gradually in front of you really is appropos for your answers. Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 22:01

"The sound became audible." Other ways it could be phrased are: "I began to hear the sound of ...", "I became aware of the sound of ...", "The sound of ... slowly entered my awareness." or possibly "The silence was broken by the sound of ..."

  • "A faint noise which quickly evolved into the thrumming of an engine."

  • "I could hear the faint noise of a car coming in the distance."

  • "A faint noise which quickly turned into the distant sound of a car coming down the road."


Resound -
(of a sound, voice, etc.) fill a place with sound; be loud enough to echo.
"another scream resounded through the school"
synonyms: echo, re-echo, reverberate, ring out, boom, thunder, rumble "the explosion resounded around the silent street"

Alternatively a source independent descriptor for something to appear, emerge, or develop could be the word arrive which could apply to sound.



Depending on what you're after, then crescendo might be what you want.

From https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/crescendo:

Verb. To increase in intensity, to reach or head for a crescendo.

An example from http://www.dictionary.com/browse/crescendo:

Then his ears caught a crescendo of the whispering that he had heard before.

The Whispering Spheres, Russell Robert Winterbotham

  • It's the "catching" (caught) that the OP's asking for.
    – Tom Hundt
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 20:58

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