9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[kawf, kof] /kɔf, kɒf/
verb (used without object)
to expel air from the lungs suddenly with a harsh noise, often involuntarily.
(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.
to make a similar sound, as a machine gun firing in spurts.
verb (used with object)
to expel by coughing (usually followed by up or out):
to cough up phlegm.
the act or sound of coughing.
an illness characterized by frequent coughing.
a sound similar to a cough, a machine gun, or an engine firing improperly.
Verb phrases
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 of cough
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cough
  • cough suppressants may help if this condition is due to throat irritation from violent coughing.
  • Typically, the bug causes mild pneumonia, a persistent cough and a low-grade fever.
  • Some believe the spirits of the deceased have caused a spate of illnesses here, including my own lingering cough.
  • When you have the flu, you cough a lot, which can help transmit the virus to other people.
  • The mead was refreshing in the way a honey-menthol cough drop can be, but much lighter and not as sweet.
  • In the medical literature, it is known as the cough trick.
  • If you can get the students to cough up a copy of the previous exams, try to build a final from that.
  • If you've never been brave enough to cough up the cash for the expensive gear, it's time you have.
  • Adults who want a more palatable remedy against cough and sore throat can try mixing warm water with lemon and honey.
  • Many still envision them as loners toiling in their garrets, perhaps with a nasty cough.
British Dictionary definitions for cough


(intransitive) to expel air or solid matter from the lungs abruptly and explosively through the partially closed vocal chords
(intransitive) to make a sound similar to this
(transitive) to utter or express with a cough or coughs
(intransitive) (slang) to confess to a crime
an act, instance, or sound of coughing
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 cough

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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cough 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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cough in Science
  (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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