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I am looking for terms that define noise, as is particularly heard in a newspapaer office. It is loud, but not loud enough to be called a din/ruckus/cacophony.

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    You want a word for the more-or-less constant sound of a busy office where two people standing a few feet apart can still engage in a conversation without having to raise their voices? – TRomano Nov 2 '15 at 14:23
  • @TimRomano yep that's what I'm looking for. – user145529 Nov 2 '15 at 14:31
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    A din doesn't have to be loud, it simply has to be annoying. – Chenmunka Nov 2 '15 at 14:56
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    @Mitch: No it's not. Look at uses of the word, and you'll find "a din", "the din", "that din", and constructions like that. For example, see both example sentences in the Merriam-Webster online entry. – user2357112 supports Monica Nov 2 '15 at 21:02
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    @2357112 and Mitch. It's one of the nouns that comes somewhere in between count and noncount nouns, taking an indefinite article but not numbers. Compare the usage of 'light' in 'there was a gentle light in the glade' etc. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 3 '15 at 0:10
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There is 'clamour' (US: 'clamor')

Clamour - noun

1 - a loud uproar, as from a crowd of people: the clamor of the crowd at the gates.

4 - any loud and continued noise: the clamor of traffic; the clamor of birds and animals in the zoo.

www.dictionary.com

There is also 'hubbub'

Hubbub - noun

1 - a loud, confused noise, as of many voices: There was quite a hubbub in the auditorium after the announcement

www.dictionary.com

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    hubbub is better :) – user145529 Nov 2 '15 at 14:28
  • @A.P. You think it's mainly an American thing? :) – Edwin Ashworth Nov 2 '15 at 15:07
  • @EdwinAshworth No, why? :) I just think of this word when I need to drown the office clamor with some music :) – A.P. Nov 2 '15 at 15:12
  • Your US spelling! – Edwin Ashworth Nov 2 '15 at 16:28
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    I think of clamor as being too loud to satisfy the OP's request. books.google.com/ngrams/… – TRomano Nov 2 '15 at 17:18
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Agree with Marv that clamor and hubbub are nice ones for the sustained noise of voices in a room.

You might also consider racket, which I think suggests a more abrasive sound than either of the above, perhaps one punctuated by the tapping of journalists fingers on keyboards.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/racket

noun

1 : confused clattering noise : clamor

2 a : social whirl or excitement

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  • I think "racket" indicates a noise so loud that it is extremely annoying to others. I think the OP is looking for something milder. – Ypnypn Nov 3 '15 at 14:31
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Although Oxford Dictionary’s entry for “buzz” includes the notion of “continuous”:

1A low, continuous humming or murmuring sound, made by or similar to that made by an insect: the buzz of the bees a buzz of conversation;

I usually use, perhaps redundantly, and see it with “constant” (which I suppose makes this a two-word answer), as in this example from ‘The Smouldering Flame’ by Anne Mather (via Google Books):

… she doubted if he had even heard her above the constant buzz of conversation all around them.”

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A "dull roar"?

n. a relatively quiet degree of noisiness.

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More suggestions - Rumble:

a low heavy continuous reverberating often muffled sound (as of thunder) - Merriam-Webster.com

Or Clatter:

1. a rattling sound (as of hard bodies striking together)

2. commotion

3. noisy chatter -Ibid.

From which, Commotion:

4. a : an agitated disturbance : to-do

b. : noisy confusion : agitation - Ibid.

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If it's a modern-day newspaper office, you won't have the sound of typewriter keys being struck, but the sound of people's voices.

You could refer to the constant chatter of the newspaper office.

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Consider murmur:

a low, indistinct, continuous sound, as of a stream, far-off voices, etc.

(http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/american/murmur)

If a short phrase is acceptable, how about speech noise:

Coping with Speech Noise in the Modern Workplace

(http://chatterblocker.com/whitepapers/conversational_distraction.html)

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Hustle and Bustle - energy and excitement; confusion and business

http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/hustle+and+bustle

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Cacophony might express the sound you are trying to describe, but it must be discordant in addition to loud.

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  • This post would be improved by explaining why you suggest this term, for example, by providing a dictionary definition or examples in the wild. I encourage you take the site tour and review the help center for additional guidance. – Nathaniel is protesting Nov 2 '15 at 23:03
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    -1 The OP has already rules out 'cacophony' – Marv Mills Nov 3 '15 at 12:30

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