from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To expel air from the lungs suddenly and noisily, often to keep the respiratory passages free of irritating material.
  • intransitive verb To make a noise similar to noisy expulsion of air from the lungs.
  • intransitive verb To expel by coughing.
  • noun The act of coughing.
  • noun An illness marked by frequent coughing.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An abrupt and more or less violent and noisy expiration, excited by some irritation of the respiratory organs.
  • To lay up for; store as in a coffer.
  • To make a more or less violent effort, accompanied with noise, to expel the air from the respiratory organs, and force out any matter that irritates the air-passages, or renders respiration difficult.
  • To expel from the air-passages by a more or less violent effort with noise and usually with expectoration: followed by up: as, to cough up phlegm.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To expel from the lungs or air passages by coughing; -- followed by up.
  • transitive verb To bring to a specified state by coughing.
  • transitive verb to silence or put down (an objectionable speaker) by simulated coughing.
  • noun A sudden, noisy, and violent expulsion of air from the chest, caused by irritation in the air passages, or by the reflex action of nervous or gastric disorder, etc.
  • noun The more or less frequent repetition of coughing, constituting a symptom of disease.
  • noun cough due to irritation in the stomach or ear.
  • intransitive verb To expel air, or obstructing or irritating matter, from the lungs or air passages, in a noisy and violent manner.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb To push air from the lungs in a quick, noisy explosion.
  • verb To make a noise like a cough
  • noun A sudden, usually noisy expulsion of air from the lungs, often involuntary.
  • noun A condition that causes one to cough; a tendency to cough.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb exhale abruptly, as when one has a chest cold or congestion
  • noun a sudden noisy expulsion of air from the lungs that clears the air passages; a common symptom of upper respiratory infection or bronchitis or pneumonia or tuberculosis


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English coughen, ultimately of imitative origin.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Proto-Germanic *kuh- (unattested in Old English, but probably present as *cohhian; compare cohhetan ("shout")). Cognate with Dutch kuchen ("cough"), German keuchen ("pant"), Albanian hukat ("pant, gasp").



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  • "I shall begin with a COUGH, which is the Foundation of many bad Distempers, and therefore should be taken care of as soon as possible. It may be cured in the Beginning with riding moderately on Horseback every Day, and only taking a little Ground Ivy Tea sweeten'd with Syrup of Horehound, at Night when you go to bed. But in case it be violent, it will be proper to bleed Eight Ounces, and be constant in the Use of the other Remedies. In the mean while, you must use a spare and cooling Diet, without either Flesh or strong Drink. Nor should you stove your self up in a warm Room, but breathe as much as possible in the open Air. And to prevent this Mischief, don't make your self tender, but wash your Head every Day in cold Water, and very often your Feet."

    Every Man His Own Doctor, Or, the Poor Planter's Physician, Third Edition, Printed and Sold by William PARKS, at his Printing-Offices in Williamsburg, and Annapolis. 1736.

    January 27, 2009

  • *shudders*

    January 27, 2009

  • Horehound! My grandmother always would give me horehound lozenges whenever I got a sore throat as a child. Can you get such things today anywhere?

    January 28, 2009

  • Yes, rolig. But they're vile. I think slippery elm works better.

    January 28, 2009

  • I think nowadays they're called (reaches for Alpine didgeridoo)


    January 28, 2009

  • Horehound? I'd be too embarrassed to ask, what with a husky sore-throat voice and all.

    January 28, 2009

  • What are those alpine didgeridoos really called, anyway?

    January 28, 2009

  • Don't be embarassed, bilby. We all need a little horehound now and then.

    Pleth: alpenhorns? (Seen here.)

    January 28, 2009