- noun the act of making a noise by sending the air out of your lungs suddenly, e.g. when you are ill
- verb to make a noise by sending air out of your lungs suddenly, e.g. because you are ill
- an infection that causes coughing
- noun a reflex action, caused by irritation in the throat, when the glottis is opened and air is sent out of the lungs suddenly
- verb to send air out of the lungs suddenly because the throat is irritated
- verb to confess to a crime, to reluctantly give up information. A police and underworld term influenced by the notion of coughing up something stuck in the throat.
- noun a sound made when somebody has an irritation in the throat and air is sent out of the lungs suddenly
Origin & History of “cough”
Although it is largely disguised by the modern English pronunciation, cough is of onomatopoeic origin. It came from a prehistoric Germanic base *kokh- (the kh pronounced not unlike the ch of loch), which initiated the sound of coughing. this has no recorded Old English descendant (although one probably existed, *cohhian), and first appears in the language as middle English coughen.