Top 30 Adjectives for Cough (Negative & Positive Words)

Coughs are a common bodily reflex, yet they can be described in many different ways based on their sound, duration, and impact. Adjectives can paint a vivid picture of a particular type of cough.

Description of Cough

A cough is a sudden expulsion of air from the lungs, typically to clear out irritants, mucus, or foreign particles.

Words to Describe Cough

Here are the 30 most common words to describe Cough:

  1. Dry
  2. Wet
  3. Persistent
  4. Hacking
  5. Phlegmy
  6. Wheezy
  7. Barking
  8. Short
  9. Racking
  10. Violent
  11. Muffled
  12. Chronic
  13. Soft
  14. Loud
  15. Intermittent
  16. Hoarse
  17. Raspy
  18. Paroxysmal
  19. Chesty
  20. Whopping
  21. Productive
  22. Incessant
  23. Spasmodic
  24. Smothered
  25. Tickly
  26. Clearing
  27. Light
  28. Sudden
  29. Recurring
  30. Deep

Positive Words to Describe Cough

  1. Short
  2. Light
  3. Clearing
  4. Soft
  5. Muffled
  6. Intermittent
  7. Productive
  8. Sudden
  9. Recurring
  10. Deep

Negative Words to Describe Cough

  1. Persistent
  2. Hacking
  3. Phlegmy
  4. Wheezy
  5. Barking
  6. Racking
  7. Violent
  8. Chronic
  9. Hoarse
  10. Incessant

Adjectives for Cough (Meanings and Example Sentences)


  • Meaning: Without mucus or phlegm.
  • Sentence: His dry cough seemed to irritate his throat more.


  • Meaning: Accompanied by secretions.
  • Sentence: She had a wet cough after the cold.


  • Meaning: Continuing without pause.
  • Sentence: His persistent cough lasted for weeks.


  • Meaning: Sharp and abrupt.
  • Sentence: A hacking cough interrupted her speech.


  • Meaning: Full of mucus.
  • Sentence: He cleared his phlegmy throat loudly.


  • Meaning: With a whistling sound.
  • Sentence: Her wheezy cough concerned the doctor.


  • Meaning: Harsh and loud.
  • Sentence: The child’s barking cough alarmed everyone.


  • Meaning: Brief in duration.
  • Sentence: A short cough got everyone’s attention.


  • Meaning: Painfully intense.
  • Sentence: The racking cough left her exhausted.


  • Meaning: Forceful and strong.
  • Sentence: His violent coughing fit scared us.

Other Words to Describe Cough

Words to Describe Cough Sounds

  1. Grating
  2. Rumbling
  3. Sibilant
  4. Hollow
  5. Roaring
  6. Whistling
  7. Stifled
  8. Guttural
  9. Shrill
  10. Croaky

Words to Describe Chesty Cough

  1. Mucous-filled
  2. Resonant
  3. Deep-seated
  4. Rattling
  5. Congested
  6. Heavy
  7. Moist
  8. Resounding
  9. Robust
  10. Reverberating

Words to Describe Coughing Up

  1. Bloody
  2. Frothy
  3. Mucus-laden
  4. Chunky
  5. Clear
  6. Sticky
  7. Yellowish
  8. Greenish
  9. Stringy
  10. Foamy

Words to Describe a Bad Cough

  1. Debilitating
  2. Agonizing
  3. Relentless
  4. Distressing
  5. Troublesome
  6. Harrowing
  7. Unyielding
  8. Exhausting
  9. Overpowering
  10. Unending

Medical Words to Describe Cough

  1. Acute
  2. Chronic
  3. Nocturnal
  4. Non-productive
  5. Reflex
  6. Post-viral
  7. Psychogenic
  8. Croupy
  9. Bronchial
  10. Asthmatic

How to Describe Cough in Writing?

A cough might seem like a straightforward symptom, but when portrayed in writing, it holds the power to create imagery, evoke sympathy, or even create tension. Begin with the sound. Describe its timbre, pitch, and intensity. For instance, “The hollow echo of a cough in a silent room can create a chilling ambiance.”

Next, focus on the sensation and appearance. Does the character’s face turn red? Are their eyes watering? Do they clutch their chest in pain? Such descriptions can help readers empathize with the character’s discomfort or concern. For example, “He doubled over, every cough a visible jolt of pain that contorted his face.”

Lastly, emphasize the aftermath or the context. Why is the character coughing? Is it a sign of an underlying disease, a reaction to a dusty environment, or perhaps a response to a tense moment? This context helps set the scene and the mood, ensuring the reader fully grasps the importance of the cough in the narrative.

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