In a composition that I am writing, I am describing the sound of a very large hovercraft, namely its propellers. I've listened to a video of one such hovercraft, and it's not a whir, or a buzz, or a drone. I just can't quite put my finger on what to call it. The best I thought of was "roar", but I think there's probably a better word than that.

I suggest you have a look at the video (Skip to about 15 seconds in) and see if you can think of a word to describe the sound.

Sample sentence: "I yelled under the ______ of the three vast propellers."

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    "My yelling was futile against the roar of the three vast propellers" I too, heard it as a roar. Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 12:56
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    Roar sounds good to me. Googling for hovercraft roar finds lots of results in books, web sites and newspapers.
    – user184130
    Commented Jul 7, 2018 at 17:35
  • I will observe that with many such vehicles -- hovercraft, helicopters, small prop planes, etc -- the actual sound is much less unique than ones romantic imagination wishes it to be. Helicopters in flight, eg, are essentially indistinguishable from ordinary prop planes.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 22:08
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    The hover blades,underneath, seem to whoosh, while the propulsion blades roar, or have a roaring beat to them. -Those blades are slightly out of sync, so you hear beat frequencies too. Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 22:48
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    Seemingly closely related: Word for the noise made by a helicopter?
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 6:54

2 Answers 2



Make a continuous rhythmic humming sound.

‘the boat's huge engines thrummed in his ears’

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    I think "roar" would be the word of choice. "Thrum" connotes a lower-volume humming sound. If you're on the quay, the boat's engines might seem to thrum, but if you're in the boat's engine room, you would probably say they were roaring.
    – tautophile
    Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 15:38

This is how I’d describe the sound of a helicopter… Wyump wyump wyump …but if you’re looking for a higher frequency version I’d say… Zwiss zwiss zwiss

If you’re looking for a non-onomatopoeia descriptor I’d say… “Whirring hum”

  • This seems to be an answer to a different question. Commented Feb 11, 2023 at 7:05

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