If you use a phone, video chat, etc. your voice kind of changes so that it's muffled, but when I hear "muffled" or "muffled by" I tend to associate it with something like the voices you make when gagged or smothered by a pillow (sorry for the dark example, but that's what comes to mind). Does anyone have any other words they think might work? I've thought of using "filtered" or "filtered by," but they seem more like something you would use to describe your voice if you used a voice modifier.

  • I can't imagine what you associate with "muffled footsteps" then. Did you check a thesaurus?
    – Laurel
    Mar 1, 2019 at 18:37
  • Hahaha, oh my, you're right about that. I didn't even think of that one, but that's another example of something I'd see working. I have no idea why I associate the word with such negative things. All the words I've seen in thesauruses associate the word with quietness, which is not quite what I mean in this sense. Mar 1, 2019 at 18:41
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    Often the sound reproduced by a telephone or small loudspeaker is described as "tinny".
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 1, 2019 at 18:58
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    Please give a complete sample sentence with a blank where the word should be. Without that we don't even know for sure what part of speech is required. Thanks. Mar 1, 2019 at 20:45
  • Hi pay no mind, welcome to EL&U. You might not be aware that there are strict rules for single-word-requests: "To ensure your question is not closed as off-topic, please be specific about the intended use of the word. You must include a sample sentence demonstrating how the word would be used." You can add this using the edit link. For further guidance, see How to Ask, and make sure you also take the EL&U Tour :-) Mar 2, 2019 at 3:15

2 Answers 2


I would think that to best describe the way a voice is affected by electronic audio outputs requires a more nuanced awareness of the particular audible effect the device in question has. For example, there are a variety of different sounds: static sounds, buzzing, whining sounds, an electronic hiss, white noise, high frequency sounds, low frequency sounds, etc. There are also several different words that can be used to describe what happens to sounds in certain instances: deaden, dull, dampen, mute, soften, quieten, hush, silence, still, tone down, mask, stifle, subdue. Any of these can be used to describe what happens to a speakers voice when processed through an electronic device, but the particular one you choose to select will ultimately be based upon context and the desired tone you're looking to express.

If you want to be really general, you could use the word "distorted". For example, "The phone was old and distorted her voice."


Metallic voice is often used to describe voices emitted from some electronic device. It doesn't imply that the sound is attenuated, though. It doesn't imply that it is produced by metal either. Most of the time the speakers' diaphragms are made out of paper or other polymers.

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