What is it called when one expresses "Yes", "No", or "I Don't Know" without using words - just humming their response? You know, when someone responds with a low note than a high note for Yes or "Ah-huh!"; a low note and a slightly lower note for No or "Nuh-uh"; or a low note, a high note, and a low note for I don't know.

3 Answers 3


In a sentence, it's often called a grunt or murmur of assent.

A related question is How to describe making sounds with your throat?


I believe the word falls into the category of paralanguage. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/paralanguage


Wikipedia describes 'Vocables' as "utterances which are not considered words."

vocable n.

A syllable or sound without lexical or referential meaning, vocalized as part of a song or sung melody. - OED Definition 2


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.