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From Middle English coughen, coghen, from Old English *cohhian (compare Old English cohhetan (to shout)), from Proto-Germanic *kuh- (to cough). 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. (intransitive) 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. (transitive, sometimes followed by "up") To force something out of the throat or lungs by coughing.
    Sometimes she coughed (up) blood.
  3. (intransitive) To make a noise like a cough.
    The engine coughed and sputtered.

Derived terms[edit]



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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