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

  • intransitive v. To expel air from the lungs suddenly and noisily, often to keep the respiratory passages free of irritating material.
  • intransitive v. To make a noise similar to noisy expulsion of air from the lungs: The engine coughed and died.
  • transitive v. To expel by coughing: coughed up phlegm.
  • n. The act of coughing.
  • n. An illness marked by frequent coughing.
  • cough up Slang To hand over or relinquish (money or another possession), often reluctantly.
  • cough up Slang To confess or disclose: When he saw that the police might arrest him, he coughed up the details of what he had seen.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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.
  • n. The more or less frequent repetition of coughing, constituting a symptom of disease.
  • intransitive v. To expel air, or obstructing or irritating matter, from the lungs or air passages, in a noisy and violent manner.
  • transitive v. To expel from the lungs or air passages by coughing; -- followed by up.
  • transitive v. To bring to a specified state by coughing.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • To lay up for; store as in a coffer.
  • n. An abrupt and more or less violent and noisy expiration, excited by some irritation of the respiratory organs.

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

  • v. exhale abruptly, as when one has a chest cold or congestion
  • n. 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


Middle English coughen, ultimately of imitative origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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"). (Wiktionary)



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

    Pleth: alpenhorns? (Seen here.)

    January 28, 2009

  • What are those alpine didgeridoos really called, anyway?

    January 28, 2009

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

    January 28, 2009

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


    January 28, 2009

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

    January 28, 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

  • *shudders*

    January 27, 2009

  • "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