AskDefine | Define bullhorn

Dictionary Definition

bullhorn n : a portable loudspeaker with built-in microphone and amplifier [syn: loud-hailer]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A portable, usually hand-held, funnel-shaped device which electronically amplifies a person’s natural voice toward a targeted direction.


portable device which electronically amplifies a person’s natural voice

Extensive Definition

For the pro-Israel lobbying software tool, see Megaphone desktop tool.
A megaphone, speaking-trumpet, bullhorn or loud hailer is a portable, usually hand-held, funnel-shaped device whose application is to send a person’s natural voice toward a targeted direction for a specified purpose. This is accomplished by channeling the sound through a funnel, which also serves to match the impedance of the voice cords to the air. The natural human voice tends to spread evenly in all directions, whereas when it is sent through a megaphone, the sound is concentrated in a given direction and the coupling of its energy to the air optimised. The trade-off is that if a listener is to the side, it is more difficult to hear what is being said. An electronic megaphone amplifies sound to a higher decibel level. It consists of a microphone, an amplifier and a loudspeaker. Inventor Thomas Edison exhibited an early version of the megaphone at the Paris Exposition.
Common uses for megaphones are at sporting events, political functions and generally when one needs to address congregations of people in open spaces. Police officers often use them to communicate with suspects and rescue crews during operations to communicate with the victim. This object was invented in 1915.
Another lesser known use is as vocal distortion by musicians. For example, Tom Waits is known for using a megaphone in a variety of songs. The megaphone gives off a kind of gritty, untamed effect valued by many musicians.

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bullhorn in German: Sprachrohr
bullhorn in Spanish: Megáfono
bullhorn in Esperanto: Megafono
bullhorn in French: Mégaphone
bullhorn in Italian: Megafono
bullhorn in Dutch: Megafoon
bullhorn in Japanese: メガホン
bullhorn in Norwegian: Ropert
bullhorn in Norwegian Nynorsk: Ropert
bullhorn in Polish: Megafon
bullhorn in Russian: Мегафон
bullhorn in Swedish: Megafon
bullhorn in Thai: โทรโข่ง
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