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Need words or expression that get the meaning right without resorting to using simple ones like "shouting" . I'm trying to describe a house with kids where a lot of activity is happening

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    Would you please provide some example phrases? And is the buzz of the household happy or upset? For the former, I'd say bustling with energy and for the latter I'd say like Grand Central Station (although not so much during the pandemic).
    – rajah9
    May 6 '20 at 11:01
  • I always thought of feeding time at the zoo. May 7 '20 at 13:07
  • In our house, we sometimes refer to it as "things sure are busy around here right now." Busy indicates lots of activity, which both explains the noise and avoids accusations. Indeed, you used the word "busy" in your question. I think it fits.
    – Jason
    May 7 '20 at 16:25
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    Lots of the suggestions have negative connotations, but many people view a busy house with kids making happy sounds to be a positive. Which connotation are you looking for?
    – pjs
    May 7 '20 at 18:31
  • @pjs - Looking for a positive connotation Sep 22 '20 at 7:40

11 Answers 11

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Words like racket and din could lead you to other synonyms. Lexico has

racket²
1 A loud unpleasant noise; a din.
the kids were making a racket

Another suggestion is, from Lexico

hubbub
1 A chaotic din caused by a crowd of people.
1.1 busy, noisy situation.

You could say

Our house is always a hubbub of activity.

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    Racket is the word!!
    – user 66974
    May 6 '20 at 11:37
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    Brahm's Third Racket...
    – barbecue
    May 7 '20 at 16:15
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Cacophony (Noun): A harsh discordant mixture of sounds.

"a cacophony of deafening alarm bells" Lexico

13

The word ruckus can be used. Google gives the following definition and provides an example with a child:

a disturbance or commotion.

"a child is raising a ruckus in class"

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  • I think ruckus is more about behaviour than noise?
    – Isaac
    May 7 '20 at 8:44
  • It's noisy behavior. You're not raising a ruckus if you're silently flailing about; it's only a proper ruckus if you're wailing and screaming at the same time. But there's definitely a behavioral component. May 8 '20 at 21:11
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Clamour (Noun): A loud and confused noise, especially that of people shouting.

Example: From behind the group, a great clamour aroseLexico

It can also be used as a verb.


Or tumult.

Tumult (noun): A loud, confused noise, especially one caused by a large mass of peopleLexico

Example: a tumult of shouting and screaming broke out.

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    I would say that clamour is more of a temporary nature though.
    – pipe
    May 7 '20 at 10:36
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    There are a lot of good answers but I think 'tumult' is the best. May 8 '20 at 15:48
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It's a bit more dramatic, but "pandemonium" (Noun) comes to mind.

"Wild and noisy disorder or confusion; uproar." Lexico

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I would go with bedlam

a place, scene, or state of uproar and confusion

There was bedlam in the streets after the verdict was announced.

Webster

Example usage, related to a house full of people, from the UK paper The Guardian

My wife and I live here with our five kids, our grandson and three dogs. I run my executive recruiting company from here and my wife runs a childminding business in the conservatory. It can be bedlam sometimes.

Working from home is bedlam

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    You might want to add that the origin is a contraction of 'Bethlehem' and the loud cries of distress and pain of mentally ill people chained up in the old Bethlehem Hospital before we had any treatment for them. There is a rising movement not to use words referring to mental illness for things unrelated to mental illness, and this particularly sad word is soaked in sadness and pain. May 7 '20 at 14:53
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    @PeteKirkham That's horrifying... I had no idea of the connection.
    – Meg
    May 8 '20 at 19:15
7

I like bustling. As in "Sorry about the noise, our house is bustling with activity this morning." From the OED:

That bustles (in various senses of bustle v.1); esp. (of a person) that moves about in an energetic, noisy, or busy manner; (of a place) full of bustle or noisy activity.

(emphasis mine)

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Shemozzle is what I used to call my chaotic household of 6 kids.

(also schemozzle)

"A state of chaos and confusion; a muddle." Lexico

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    +1 - I'm familiar with the similar-sounding cognate schlimazel (an unlucky person), but this is a new one for me. May 7 '20 at 18:31
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    Accurate, though very culturally specific given its Yiddish origins. Might seem out of place in general usage. May 7 '20 at 18:57
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A boisterous household

Boisterous means "loud, clamorous, and unrestrained." Think of children on a playground or a lively party or a litter of puppies as boisterous. This word, which comes from Middle English, can also refer to very intense storms. You could call a hurricane boisterous, but you will most likely hear this word used to describe people.

source

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Tintinnabulation (Edgar A. Poe--"The Bells")

Although it certainly does not have the direct connotation of "children" and the garboil that they may cause (p.s. "Garboil" although an archaic word may itself work in this context--and it sounds just so wonderful too!), the word (tintinnabulation) certainly evokes a sense of "madness," and if the reader realizes the allusion to the word and to Poe's poem, that may in itself become quite a virtue, as then you paint into the reader's mind that spasming, tempestuous atmosphere that Poe so brilliantly portrays--therefore relating Poe's madness to a flock of children screaming about:

   "From the bells, bells, bells, bells,   Bells, bells, bells—" (Poe)
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A classic phrase to describe the sounds of a house with young children is to describe the pitter-patter of little feet. Literally, it describes the gentle sounds of young children who are just learning to walk, and has a joyous connotation of a home full of life. One could use the phrase sarcastically, or twist it to the pitter-patter of big feet or the clomping of little feet, to describe a house with not-so-little children who are running around and making too much noise.

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    That's not what it means...macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/…
    – Matt
    May 7 '20 at 15:14
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    @Matt That's exactly what it means, and your link confirms it - "She hopes to be hearing the patter of tiny feet very soon" means "she hopes to be hearing the sound of a house with children in it very soon". It's often used in an expectant, forward-looking manner before the child is born, but the "pitter-patter" itself is the noise that a young child makes when walking. It would make no sense for this phrase to apply to a hypothetical sound you expect to hear in the future, but not the actual sound that's made when the child is present. May 7 '20 at 16:57
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    This is what came to mind for me. So +1 for this phrase. May 8 '20 at 0:55
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    umm, Matt's not incorrect. 'pitter patter of tiny feet" is an idiom meaning pregnant: expecting a child. The definition in Matt's link only mentions "used for saying that someone is going to have a baby". You quoted an example sentence. A perfectly acceptable alternate example would be: "Jake's just lost his job and worse, it looks like we're going to be hearing the pitter patter of tiny feet - again - within six months" from the parent of a family struggling to make ends meet. Yes, there are possible connotations to your understanding, but idiomatically it just means 'pregnant'.
    – mcalex
    May 8 '20 at 5:28
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    @mcalex Again, you've used it in a forward-looking way to describe a pitter-patter that's coming in the future, so yes, you can use it to describe a child that's not here yet (a pregnancy). You can also use it to a describe a child that is here already. A woman with grown children who says "I miss the pitter patter of little feet" is not implying that she misses being pregnant - she means that she misses having small children in the house. May 8 '20 at 13:20

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