There are several ways to type a cough sound in text, other than simply to spell cough itself out in text. Words that capture sounds are known as onomatopoeia, and there are plenty of existing onomatopoeia for coughing. You can also use various emoji that capture the essence of coughing or being sick.
Coughing Sound in Words
The word cough itself sounds like a cough, so it's sometimes sufficient to write the word cough to capture the sound. Other sounds that a sick person might make, such as sniff, sniffle, hiccup, sneeze and snort also fall into this category.
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You can also use one of several other words often used to represent coughing, such as "ahem" or even "hack," which can capture the sound of a cough. "Ahem" is often used to represent someone deliberately coughing to draw attention to himself or to an unpleasant circumstance.
Describing the Cough
Naturally, it's also possible to simply describe a cough and the sound that someone made, such as a hacking cough, a wet cough, a dry cough or a similar expression. You can mention that someone coughed uncontrollably, covered his mouth to cough discreetly, coughed into a tissue or other relevant facts.
If the cough is related to an allergy or disease, you can mention that as well, such as if someone coughed because of smoke or pollen in the air or thanks to a cold going around. Use the appropriate words and language to keep your reader informed to the extent that a cough is relevant to whatever story you're telling. Try to avoid using overly florid language if the cough isn't that important to what you're describing.
Using a Cough Emoji
In some cases, such as in a text message or a friendly email, you might want to use an emoji to represent a cough. There are several that can do the job.
For example, there is a "face wearing medical mask" emoji that might capture someone who's trying to prevent a cough from getting others sick, or just the general idea of being sick. There's also a face with a hand over its mouth that could represent a cough and a sneezing face emoji.
Check the emoji available on your platform to see which might represent a cough. On an Android or iPhone smart phone, you can tap to access an emoji keyboard from your normal on-screen keyboard.
On Windows, use the built-in Character Map tool to locate the character you want and insert it into your message. You can find this tool within the "System Tools" sub-menu of the "Accessories" menu or by typing "charmap" into the search box in the Start Menu or taskbar.
On a Mac computer, use the "Emoji & Symbols" menu to find emoji to insert into your documents. Click the "Edit" menu in any program, then click "Emoji & Symbols." Scroll or use the search box to find a suitable emoji.
- Merriam-Webster: Onomatopoeia
- NoiseHelp: Examples of Onomatopoeia
- Oxford Dictionaries: The Language of Coughing
- Emojipedia: Smiling Face with Hand Over Mouth
- Emojipedia: Face with Medical Mask
- Emojipedia: Sneezing Face
- Penn State University: Character Map
- Apple: How to Use Emoji, Accents, and Symbols on Your Mac