A cough is a reflex in which your throat or lungs are cleared by a sudden, sharp burst of air escaping. A bad cough can make it very hard to sleep at night.

A cough is evidence that someone's sick, and it's a verb as well: "She began to cough and couldn't stop until someone brought her a bottle of water." You can also describe a cough-like sound that an engine makes when it's not working properly as a cough. The Old English source of cough is coughen, from a Germanic root — every version of the word is imitative, the word itself sounding like a cough.

Definitions of cough
  1. 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
    synonyms: coughing
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    type of:
    (medicine) any sensation or change in bodily function that is experienced by a patient and is associated with a particular disease
  2. verb
    exhale abruptly, as when one has a chest cold or congestion
    “The smoker coughs all day”
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    hack, whoop
    cough spasmodically
    clear the throat, hawk
    clear mucus or food from one's throat
    type of:
    cough out, cough up, expectorate, spit out, spit up
    discharge (phlegm or sputum) from the lungs and out of the mouth
Word Family