cough (kôf, kŏf)
v. coughed, cough·ing, coughs
1. To expel air from the lungs suddenly and noisily, often to keep the respiratory passages free of irritating material.
2. To make a noise similar to noisy expulsion of air from the lungs: The engine coughed and died.
To expel by coughing: coughed up phlegm.
1. The act of coughing.
2. An illness marked by frequent coughing.
cough up Slang
1. To hand over or relinquish (money or another possession), often reluctantly.
2. To confess or disclose: When he saw that the police might arrest him, he coughed up the details of what he had seen.
a. To lose possession of (the ball or puck), especially because of defensive pressure from the opposing team.
b. To fail to maintain (a lead in a game).
[Middle English coughen, ultimately of imitative origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.