The sound of clearing your throat is a fairly common one to come across. It might help to know some of the best onomatopoeia words to use when describing this sound. Luckily, this article will be all the help you need to figure out the best words.
How Do You Spell The Sound Of Clearing Your Throat?
We can provide plenty of choices for this sound. Maybe you’d like to give one of the following a go:
- Cough cough
- (Clears throat)
- Arr hrrm
The preferred version is “ahem.” In English, it’s the most common (and most recognized) form of onomatopoeia for clearing one’s throat. It works well to show that someone wants to make their presence known in a room full of people.
“Ahem” is the best way to show that someone is clearing their throat. It works well because it recreates the sound perfectly. Interestingly, some native speakers also use “ahem” as a word when they want to try and get the attention of others.
Here are a few examples that will help you with it:
- Ahem! Is anyone here ready to listen to my voice of reason?
- Ahem! I don’t want you to say any more about this without guidance.
- Ahem! I think you’ve said more than enough. Thank you for your time. Good bye.
“Cough cough” is another useful way to show someone is clearing their throat. It works well because the repeated word shows that somebody is desperate for the attention of others.
Typically, someone chooses to clear their throats when other people are not listening to them. If they want to be taken more seriously, they might try and say “I’m here” or “I want to talk” by clearing their throat.
That way, it’s less embarrassing if people still choose to ignore you after you’ve tried to make your opinions heard. It’s a useful defense mechanism that many people have in public crowds.
These examples should explain how it works:
- Cough cough! I think you should hear me out. I might be able to assist you.
- Cough cough! Don’t talk to me like that. Now that you’ve given me a chance to speak, I’d like to say a few words.
- Cough cough! Sorry! I wasn’t listening. What did you say?
“Cough” also works well to show that someone is clearing their throat. We do not need to repeat the word, but it depends on how loud someone chooses to clear their throat. If they’re not looking for attention, one “cough” might work well.
Here are some examples that might help you:
- Cough. I tried to keep it as quiet as I could. I really didn’t want to annoy the boss.
- Cough! Sorry! Sorry! I didn’t mean to interrupt. Please continue where you left off.
- Cough. I’m definitely coming down with something, which I was hoping wouldn’t happen!
“Hem-hem” works well when we want to show that someone is deliberately trying to get the attention of others. Usually, “hem-hem” works best when a weaker voice is trying to clear their throats and show authority that they might not usually have.
You might be interested to know that “hem-hem” was made famous by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series. In the fifth book, Dolores Umbridge was introduced, and she was famous for using “hem-hem” to clear her throat when she wanted to assert her authority.
These examples will help you with it:
- Hem-hem! Okay, students. It’s time for you all to simmer down and let the adults talk again.
- I think I need to say something. Hem-hem! Is anybody even listening to me right now?
- Hem-hem! Hem-HEM! Why is nobody giving me the respect that I deserve?
“Hm-hm” is similar to “hem-hem.” We can use it to show that someone is quietly clearing their throat. Sometimes, this isn’t to grab other people’s attention. Instead, it might be because they’re uncomfortable and don’t want to cough out loud.
Here are a few examples to help you with it:
- Hm-hm. I didn’t want anybody to hear me, so I kept it all under my breath.
- Hm-hm. I thought that’s what you said, little man. You’ll soon regret talking to me like that.
- Hm-hm. I don’t want to hear anymore. I think it’s time we called this meeting off.
“Uhheem” is another way we might be able to show that someone is clearing their throat. It’s not quite as common as some of the other choices. However, it does allow us to extend the number of “H’s” or “E’s” we use based on the aggressiveness of the throat clear.
Onomatopoeia in this form is useful when you’re trying to highlight a sound with only words. The idea is to include more letters to show that something is louder or more drawn out than it normally is.
The above shows nothing more than a regular throat clearance. It might be someone’s way of getting people’s attention while in a crowded room.
However, this example:
Shows a very prolonged throat clearance. The extra “H’s” could indicate that someone is sick and needs to clear out the phlegm in their throat before they can breathe normally again.
Check out some of these examples to help you:
- Uhheem! I think you’ve said enough. Now if you’d just sit back, you can listen to what I have to say.
- Uhhhheem! I didn’t mean for that to sound as gross as it did. Sorry.
- Uhheem! I would like to say a few words, if you’ll allow me.
“(Clears throat)” works well when we want to show that someone is making the sound of clearing their throat. It might be coming for this style of onomatopoeia to show up in scripts where an actor might need a more obvious direction about what to do.
We don’t just have to place “clears throat” in parentheses. Another common punctuation style for this is also asterisked (i.e. *clears throat*).
Check these examples to see if they might help you:
- (Clears throat) I think it’s time to let somebody else speak. You’re not helping anybody here.
- (Clears throat) That’s enough. Let me say my piece now. I’m sick of pretending like you know what you’re doing.
- *Clears throat* Alright. Well, if everyone is in agreement, I think it’s time we take this to the voting stage.
“Hork” is a great way to show that someone is aggressively clearing their throat. It mainly works when somebody is sick and needs to clear out their throats to help them breathe properly again. It’s not used to show that you want to say something.
Check out some of these examples to see how it works:
- Hork! Better out than in with that one! Oh, it was huge!
- Hork! Hork! I’m sorry, but I can’t speak on the phone right now, sir.
- Hork! It didn’t have to be so loud, but I definitely needed to get it out of me!
“Arr hrrm” is a common way to show someone is clearing their throat. The inclusion of the extra “R” letters usually shows that someone is creating a rolling sound while clearing their throat. This sometimes indicates sickness more than anything else.
Here are some examples that might help you:
- Arr hrrm! I do apologize! I had this piece of phlegm stuck right at the back of my throat for ages!
- Arr hrrm! That’s enough of that! Now let somebody speak who actually knows what they’re saying.
- Arr hrrm! I don’t want to hear anymore! I’ll take over now.
“Harumph” is another good choice for onomatopoeia in this context. However, a “harumph” is usually much more exasperated and annoyed as a sound. It works well to show that someone is unhappy that people are not paying them attention.
To help you understand it, you can refer to the following examples:
- Harumph. Fine. If you’re not going to listen to me, I’ll take my ideas elsewhere.
- Harumph! I really wish you’d let me speak up a little more. I hate this!
- Harumph! I thought that I’d be able to get a word in, but it seems like nobody wants to listen to me.
“Atchem” is the last word we can use. While not the most common, it works well to show that someone is clearing their throat. The inclusion of the “T” sound usually shows that they’ve managed to develop a bit of spit or phlegm alongside it.
Typically, when a “T” letter is present like this, it might mean that someone is ill. You don’t need to draw phlegm out of your throat when you clear it to let someone know you’re there. However, if you do, it could be a sign that you’re sick.
These examples might help you make more sense of it:
- Atchem! Sorry about that! I know it was disgusting, but I was so uncomfortable.
- Atchem! Oh, dear! I didn’t think it was going to sound like that.
- Atchem! I’ll take it from here, mate. I think I know what you’re talking about now.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.