Definition of cough in English:

cough

verb

[with object]
  • 1Expel air from the lungs with a sudden sharp sound.

    ‘he tried to speak and started to cough’
    • ‘I sucked in a sharp breath, almost coughing on it.’
    • ‘They felt their way forward towards the sound of a woman coughing.’
    • ‘We also hear incidental sounds like children coughing and yelling, objects being moved, and so on.’
    • ‘The boy coughed politely, the sound rumbling pleasantly in the back of this throat, and I realized that he was still waiting for me to grasp his hand.’
    • ‘The chair's legs squeaked against the floor as she pushed it away and coughed, her body expelling the pill across to the far side of the table.’
    • ‘She coughed, expelling the last of the water, and scrambled to her feet.’
    • ‘He coughed again, sounding like a submerged jeep trying to be extricated from a lake of mud.’
    • ‘Suddenly he coughed, or it sounded like it, and he placed his hand on the side of my head.’
    • ‘She coughed and it sounded as if her chest were slowly being torn apart from the inside.’
    • ‘The smoke was getting to her lungs while she started coughing, harder and harder.’
    • ‘You will cough and the inner tubes of your lungs will ache.’
    • ‘The larynx acts to protect against food getting into the lungs and makes coughing possible.’
    • ‘Breathing in ash that stung my lungs I coughed, bending forward and finding support against someone else's shoulder.’
    • ‘I coughed, my lungs contracting to rid me of the disgusting substance.’
    • ‘The bitter smell of acid and smoke filled her lungs, and she coughed.’
    • ‘She coughed liquid from her lungs and took her first real breath of air.’
    • ‘The smoke filled my lungs and I coughed repeatedly, not gaining the breath that I needed.’
    • ‘I cough and cough as my lungs feel scratchy and abrasive.’
    • ‘She heard what sounded like a man coughing and hacking.’
    • ‘Smoke began entering her lungs and she started coughing.’
    1. 1.1(of an engine) make a sudden harsh noise, especially as a sign of malfunction.
      ‘the engine began coughing and spluttering’
      • ‘The engine is coughing and spluttering and nobody knows quite how to keep the thing going.’
      • ‘And from the deep bowels of the ship, an engine coughed, spluttered and finally came on with a roar.’
      • ‘The boat's engine had coughed and wheezed for a good ten minutes before he had been able to coax it into working order.’
      • ‘He opened the throttle but the engine merely coughed and spluttered several times.’
      • ‘After a few false attempts, the engine coughs back to life, spewing black diesel smoke.’
      • ‘At 4,500 ft the engine coughed and at 4,000 ft its full-throated bellow killed the silence.’
      • ‘The old engine coughed in the dampness, and exhaust fumes seeped into the car under the seat.’
      • ‘The engine coughed to life, and it started to go immediately.’
      • ‘The engine coughed again, then again.’
      • ‘I switched to reserve and the engine coughed twice, then came to life!’
      • ‘The engine coughed, backfired, and a small explosion sent the transport's occupants flying.’
      • ‘The propeller was spun, the engine coughed into life and a throaty roar was heard as it taxied down the racecourse before rising into flight.’
      • ‘Its engine coughed to a stop and the aircraft was out of the running even before becoming airborne.’
      • ‘The gun ship settled down to the ground and bounced around as the one good engine coughed and sputtered.’
      • ‘At tile start the dual exhausts have a throaty rumble as the engine coughs to life.’
      • ‘After several agonizing minutes of waiting for the engine to cough and die, I spotted a sign for a fishing camp, which had gasoline.’
      • ‘Quickly I entered my car and started the engine, which coughed and wheezed into life.’
      • ‘Those motors did not cough or sputter once that night.’
      • ‘Motorists wait in traffic, their sputtering engines coughing a gray haze into the air.’
      • ‘All seemed well and good, right up until the engines started to cough and sputter, and then die.’
    2. 1.2with object Force (something, especially blood) out of the lungs or throat by coughing.
      ‘he coughed up bloodstained fluid’
      • ‘In any event, it was unlikely that the blood in the lungs resulted from the nosebleed or coughing blood from the lungs.’
      • ‘But just when it looked as if she was about to realise the American dream, she coughed blood into a handkerchief and her doctor diagnosed tuberculosis.’
      • ‘She screamed in pain again and started coughing blood.’
      • ‘They travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, then they're coughed up, swallowed, and wind up in the small intestine.’
      • ‘I coughed up blood, and tried to get back up but could not.’
      • ‘He turned his head to the side and coughed up more blood.’
      • ‘Many of the contestants who have coughed up their proverbial blood, sweat and tears for the last few months see the decision in a much different, more impatient light.’
      • ‘At least she hadn't coughed up any blood; that had to be a good sign.’
      • ‘He coughed up blood once and thought that if he didn't cough up more tomorrow, there was no need to worry.’
      • ‘But when she talks, it sounds like a seal coughing up a fish!’
      • ‘It makes me edgy to miss runs and cheat on the training, but I can't run with a searing pain in my foot or when I'm coughing up a lung.’
      • ‘She had begun to feel as if she were coughing up her own lungs.’
      • ‘Most of us are tired from doing it, and still coughing up all that fun stuff that develops in your lungs during summit day.’
      • ‘For a while they were asleep and not bothering anyone - but then the one with pneumonia wakes up and starts coughing up a lung.’
      • ‘There was an old man at the far end of the carriage who appeared to be coughing up a lung.’
      • ‘The fermented drink burned my tongue and I ended up coughing it out, sputtering.’
      • ‘I felt something wet and sticky in my throat, and I coughed it out in my hand.’
      • ‘I gasped for breath, trying to cough the water out of my throat.’
      • ‘Mia was on her side, trying to cough the water out of her lungs, her body trembling.’
      • ‘He landed hard and got on his hands and knees trying to cough the water out of his lungs.’
      hack, hawk, bark, clear one's throat, hem, croak, wheeze, gasp, choke, struggle for breath, fight for air
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3cough something outwith object Say something in an abrupt way.
      ‘he coughed out his orders’
      • ‘He coughed the word out to show his disagreement.’
      • ‘Bruce took the joke and coughed a forced laugh out.’
    4. 1.4British informal Reveal information; confess.
      ‘once he realized we knew, he was ready to cough fast enough’

noun

  • 1An act or sound of coughing.

    ‘she gave a discreet cough’
    • ‘He was staring at the fireplace, his eyes wide, trying to figure out what was wrong with him when he was snapped out of his reverie by the sound of a gentle cough behind him.’
    • ‘The sound of her gun dropping had cued him in, although Eric had tried earnestly to cover the sound with a cough.’
    • ‘The sound of a loud cough startled the two, and they looked up to see Jay standing in his parking space near them.’
    • ‘Your child's doctor will determine how to treat your child based in part on what the cough sounds like.’
    • ‘He made a strange sound, half a cough and half a choke, then he just dissolved.’
    • ‘Other languages have different ways of mimicking the sound of a cough.’
    • ‘he tried to hide the sob under a false cough but the sound was just a slight wheezing noise.’
    • ‘His cough sounded like he was choking up a lung and maybe his heart to keep it company.’
    • ‘Even the sound of a cough might be enough to rid himself of the feeling of solitude.’
    • ‘He was interrupted by a discreet cough behind him.’
    • ‘A discreet cough at the door alerted them to the presence of a servant.’
    • ‘Symptoms of bronchiolitis include rapid breathing, a cough, wheezing, and fever.’
    • ‘The silence was unnerving, as there was just the sound of a few coughs that echoed around the huge room.’
    • ‘His breathing had slowed down with occasional coughs and spasms.’
    • ‘The audience responded with held breath and complete involvement: not a cough, not a sigh, not a sound, until the final moment when applause burst like a storm.’
    • ‘However, children who have frequent coughs or are breathing through their mouths because of stuffy noses might not be able to keep their mouths closed long enough for an accurate oral reading.’
    • ‘She took a shuddering gasp and hacked a few good coughs.’
    • ‘The guys all elicited little coughs to hide their barks of laughter especially after they saw the look on her face.’
    • ‘Respiratory tract symptoms may also persist for some months, including coughs and shortness of breath on exertion.’
    • ‘The sake went down the wrong pipe, and I hacked a cough.’
    hack, rasp, croak, wheeze, tickle in one's throat
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A condition of the respiratory organs causing coughing.
      ‘he looked feverish and had a bad cough’
      • ‘Not surprisingly, malnourishment and illness like fevers, coughs, malaria, scabies and diarrhoea are common.’
      • ‘She had for weeks been suffering from a bad cough and chest infection.’
      • ‘Most were children or the elderly suffering from dermatitis, coughs and respiratory problems, he said.’
      • ‘It usually starts suddenly with fever, chills, headache, aching muscles and a cough or other respiratory symptoms.’
      • ‘It has been shown to sooth irritable coughs and other respiratory problems.’
      • ‘Add in fever and the fact that my cough has gotten significantly worse in the last two days, and I'm concluding that I have the flu again.’
      • ‘Symptoms of the condition can include a cough, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, extreme fatigue or fever.’
      • ‘He suffered from bad coughs and colds, but he never smoked or drank heavily.’
      • ‘My baby has a bad cough and throws up after feeding.’
      • ‘I still have a bad cough as my body rids itself of sickness, but my head feels good.’
      • ‘He had a bad cough which he attributed to a lifetime breathing in petrol fumes.’
      • ‘The person develops a bad cough to get rid of the mucus.’
      • ‘It stopped the panic attacks, but the cough has gotten worse.’
      • ‘Why do people bother coming to school when they have coughs that make them sound like sea lions?’
      • ‘With sugar or honey added, it was used for coughs, wheezing and difficult breathing.’
      • ‘Second, most coughs and colds are due to viruses.’
      • ‘Now is the ideal time to go to an acupuncturist if you want to improve your body's natural defences against winter coughs and colds.’
      • ‘A full set of case notes was found for 58 patients who had X-rays requested because of chest symptoms such as a cough or breathlessness.’
      • ‘It is helpful for coughs, bronchial spasms, and bronchitis.’
      • ‘In a bath, these oils can help soothe coughs and sore muscles, and calm the nerves.’

Phrasal Verbs

    cough something up (or cough up)
    informal
    • Give something reluctantly, especially money or information that is due or required.

      ‘the company coughed up $40 m. in settlement of the legal claims’
      • ‘When your automated teller machines divide and arrange your money before coughing it up, they are all using partition theory.’
      • ‘The authorities intervened and forbade them from leaving till the amount was coughed up.’
      • ‘When they didn't have the ball, they strangled opponents into coughing it up.’
      • ‘We didn't have enough possession and when we did get the ball we coughed it up too easily.’
      • ‘But I coughed it up anyway, and then they came back and said that they want my old driver's license number.’
      • ‘Maybe there was some other reason - perhaps he will cough it up before he goes?’
      • ‘He closely guarded company secrets but now is no doubt coughing them up.’
      • ‘Play eventually settled down a lot more, but players again slumped back into inefficient and unaccountable football, both teams guilty of coughing the ball up on numerous occasions, eight times in one particular passage of play.’
      • ‘I think he knows what's going on in his head and he isn't coughing it up.’
      • ‘You can click the link to see if the story sounds interesting enough to cough up five bucks for it.’

Origin

Middle English of imitative origin; related to Dutch kuchen ‘to cough’ and German keuchen ‘to pant’.

Pronunciation

cough

/kɒf/