sotto voce (adv. & adj.
In soft tones, so as not to be overheard; in an undertone: "There were aspersions cast, sotto voce, but knees quickly folded into curtsies when introductions were in order" (Barbara Lazear Ascher).
It is an Italian expression, meaning to speak under one's breath or to speak confidentially. In music, a dramatic lowering of the vocal or instrumental tone -- not necessarily pianissimo, but with a hushed quality. May also denote muttering in theatrical or film scripts. Actual translation means "Soft Voice
Behind the scenes, however, were sotto voce grumblings that Kohl was perhaps hanging on too long and that the party might be better off if he were to step aside and hand the candidacy to popular majority leader Wolfgang Schauble.
-- Jordan Bonfante, "The Challenger", Time, March 16, 1998
Say it sotto voce, they say, knowing full well that to shout about it would invite ridicule.
-- Julian Muscat, "Classic case for a change of course", Times (London), April 24, 2001
Inside the room, as she closed the door, the man winked at her: "I'm from the OSS," he said sotto voce. "I'm checking your room for 'bugs.'"
-- Elizabeth P. McIntosh, Sisterhood of Spies
Occasionally, to keep us amused, he mouthed bits at us: but sotto voce, in case there was a real Dutchman within earshot.
-- John Bayley, The Red Hat