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cough

[kawf, kof] /kɔf, kɒf/
verb (used without object)
1.
to expel air from the lungs suddenly with a harsh noise, often involuntarily.
2.
(of an internal-combustion engine) to make a similar noise as a result of the failure of one or more cylinders to fire in sequence.
3.
to make a similar sound, as a machine gun firing in spurts.
verb (used with object)
4.
to expel by coughing (usually followed by up or out):
to cough up phlegm.
noun
5.
the act or sound of coughing.
6.
an illness characterized by frequent coughing.
7.
a sound similar to a cough, a machine gun, or an engine firing improperly.
Verb phrases
8.
cough up, Slang.
  1. to relinquish, especially reluctantly; contribute; give.
  2. to blurt out; state, as by way of making a confession:
    After several hours of vigorous questioning by the police, he finally coughed up the information.
Origin
1275-1325
1275-1325; Middle English coghen, apparently < Old English *cohhian (compare its derivative cohhettan to cough); akin to Dutch kuchen to cough, German keuchen to wheeze
Related forms
cougher, noun
Can be confused
cough, cuff, koph.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for coughing
  • The hallway was filled with smoke and with coughing, bleeding people who were stumbling around, disoriented.
  • From the inner room clouds of tobacco smoke floated in, she kept coughing, but did not close the door.
  • Here her laugh turned again to an insufferable fit of coughing that lasted five minutes.
  • The student's right leg had swollen to twice its normal size, and he was coughing up blood.
  • But when she got the job offer, a whole bunch of people did the equivalent of coughing and looking away.
  • The virus is spread from dog to dog via coughing, contaminated objects, and even people.
  • Sneezing, hoarseness, and painful coughing followed.
  • But it was worth it, a whole day up and down and a week of cold and coughing afterwards.
  • Outside a van rumbles to life, coughing exhaust among the towering racks of drying cod that line a small harbor.
  • The root of one tree is good for curing you if you are coughing up blood.
British Dictionary definitions for coughing

cough

/kɒf/
verb
1.
(intransitive) to expel air or solid matter from the lungs abruptly and explosively through the partially closed vocal chords
2.
(intransitive) to make a sound similar to this
3.
(transitive) to utter or express with a cough or coughs
4.
(intransitive) (slang) to confess to a crime
noun
5.
an act, instance, or sound of coughing
6.
a condition of the lungs or throat that causes frequent coughing
Derived Forms
cougher, noun
Word Origin
Old English cohhetten; related to Middle Dutch kochen, Middle High German kūchen to wheeze; probably of imitative origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for coughing

cough

v.

early 14c., coughen, probably in Old English, but not recorded, from Proto-Germanic *kokh- (with the rough "kh" of German or of Scottish loch; cf. Middle Dutch kochen, Middle High German kuchen). Onomatopoeic. Related: Coughed; coughing. As a noun from c.1300.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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coughing in Medicine

cough (kôf)
v. coughed, cough·ing, coughs
To expel air from the lungs suddenly and noisily, often to keep the respiratory passages free of irritating material. n.

  1. The act of coughing.

  2. An illness marked by frequent coughing.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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coughing in Science
cough
  (kôf, kŏf)   
The act of expelling air from the lungs suddenly and noisily, often to keep the respiratory passages free of irritating material.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for coughing

cough

an expulsive reflex initiated when the respiratory tract is irritated by infection, noxious fumes, dust, or other types of foreign bodies. The reflex results in a sudden expulsion of air from the lungs that carries with it excessive secretions or foreign material from the respiratory tract. Cough is beneficial; pneumonia frequently results when an effective cough reflex is lost as a result of chest injury, disease, or oversedation. Repeated and severe coughing, however, is physically exhausting and interferes with rest. Under these circumstances drugs may be used to suppress the reflex.

Learn more about cough with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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