hum or croon the tune


Senior Member

"I forgot the tune of this carol. Could you ................ it for me?"
I think I can safely use the word hum with that sentence. Could I also use the word croon?
  • lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    "Croon" means "to sing in the style of a 'crooner'" - "crooners" being these guys:

    You wouldn't ask someone to sing in that particular style if you just wanted to be reminded of the melody. You would go with something more neutral. "Sing" or "hum" sound good in the blank, but "croon" is too markedly specific.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    As an aide-memoire it might be worth pointing out that there is a very well-known phrase:

    You hum it, I'll play it.

    This is typically said by a pianist in a bar or restaurant when a customer requests a tune and the pianist doesn't recognize the title. If the customer hums the tune then the pianist will be able to pick it up.

    Note (Not too off-topic I hope)
    There is also a well-known joke based on the phrase. If you search online for You hum it, I'll play it followed by the word 'joke' you'll find examples.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    It's simple. Crooning is with words. Humming is without words. Only humming is correct here.
    I'm sorry to nitpick but I dont entirely agree:

    1. The original question doesn't say whether there are words or not. Therefore the viable alternatives are 'sing' and 'hum' (but not 'croon' simply because it's never used in this context)

    2. The dictionary doesn't agree that crooning refers specifically to using words:

    Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

    croon /kruːn/vb
    2. a soft low singing or humming
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