Is there an English word to describe when a sound “protrudes”?

I was going to go with “protrude” but I’m getting told it is not used in this sense and it wouldn’t be understood.

It’s to describe the situation where the TV is on but you are doing something else and not paying attention, so the sound is like a white noise to you. Then there is something important being said and you realize that suddenly you’re hearing what’s being said too, even though you didn’t consciously make an effort to start listening. So the sensation is as if the sound emerged out of the white noise.

Best alternative I found is “suddenly becomes prominent”, which I don’t really like. Is there any other way to describe this?


It suddenly intruded upon my attention.

From the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, courtesy Phil Sweet:

The extent to which an intruding noise source penetrates the general ambient noise environment in a community, serves as a useful indicator of the likely reaction of the community to that noise source. Available techniques using this approach generally provide a measure of community response based upon the absolute difference in level between the intruding and the ambient noise. Such techniques rarely take account of the percentage time for which the intruding noise is audible within the ambient…

I think part of what is confusing is the use of in a comment.

stick out (intr) 2 word verb

informal to be very easy to notice:

Cambridge online

That is pretty much idiomatic. What is actually happening is that the sound is sticking into your brain, and so intruding.


to go into a place or situation in which you are not wanted or not expected to be:

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