What Is Noise?
What Is Noise Pollution?

Introduction and definitions.

What Is Noise?

The most common definition of noise is "unwanted sound." A sound might be unwanted because it is:
  • Loud
  • Unpleasant or annoying
  • Intrusive or distracting

The word "noise" descends from the Latin word "nausea," meaning seasickness, or, more generally, any similar sensation of disgust, annoyance, or discomfort.

The opposite of noise is: quiet, silence, peace, calm. (Hence, making too much noise in public is sometimes called "disturbing the peace.")

What Is Noise Pollution?

Noise pollution refers to sounds in the environment that are caused by humans and that threaten the health or welfare of human or animal inhabitants.

The most common source of noise pollution by far, the one that affects the most people on the planet, is motor vehicles. Aircraft and industrial machinery are also major sources. Additional noise pollution is contributed by office machines, sirens, power tools, and other equipment.

Noise pollution is not easy to measure, because the very definition of noise depends on the context of the sound and the subjective effect it has on the people hearing it. One person's idea of exultant, joyful music might be another person's pure torment.

Noise: Another Definition

Here's one more definition of noise, from the satirical and irreverent Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce (1911): It has a certain ring of truth, don't you think?

Read more: Effects of noise

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Sarinne Fox
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