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From Middle English coughen, coghen, from Old English *cohhian (compare Old English cohhetan ‎(to shout)), from Proto-Germanic *kuh-. Cognate with Dutch kuchen ‎(to cough), German keuchen ‎(to pant), Albanian hukat ‎(pant, gasp).



cough ‎(third-person singular simple present coughs, present participle coughing, simple past and past participle coughed)

  1. To push air from the lungs in a quick, noisy explosion.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 3, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      One saint's day in mid-term a certain newly appointed suffragan-bishop came to the school chapel, and there preached on “The Inner Life.”  He at once secured attention by his informal method, and when presently the coughing of Jarvis […] interrupted the sermon, he altogether captivated his audience with a remark about cough lozenges being cheap and easily procurable.
    • 1960, P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves in the Offing, chapter XI:
      I drew a deep breath, and a moment later wished I hadn't, because I drew it while drinking the remains of my gin and tonic. “Does Kipper know of this?“ I said, when I had finished coughing.
    I breathed in a lungful of smoke by mistake, and started to cough.
  2. To make a noise like a cough.
    The engine coughed and sputtered.

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cough ‎(plural coughs)

  1. A sudden, usually noisy expulsion of air from the lungs, often involuntary.
    Behind me, I heard a distinct, dry cough.
  2. A condition that causes one to cough; a tendency to cough.
    Sorry, I can't come to work today – I've got a nasty cough.
  3. Used to focus attention on a following utterance, often a euphemism or an attribution of blame
    He was – cough – indisposed.


Derived terms[edit]


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