Definition of harrumph in US English:



[no object]
  • 1Clear the throat noisily.

    • ‘Every few seconds he harrumphed noisily to indicate his impatience.’
    • ‘The silence was doubly odd because Bringweather wasn't even harrumphing or clearing his phlegmy throat.’
    • ‘After an hour of me trying to sleep while he showed his displeasure by snorting, harrumphing and pacing back and forth along the edge, I ceded 60% of the space to him and he was on his back and snoring within five minutes.’
    • ‘‘And if I may be permitted, I would like to read a few extracts from this report,’ said Rehn, harrumphing as he plucked out some papers from the cascade.’
    • ‘I harrumphed, but what is a throat-clearing to someone who knowingly courts cancer two dozen times a day?’
    1. 1.1 Grumpily express dissatisfaction or disapproval.
      ‘skeptics tend to harrumph at case histories like this’
      • ‘‘That's the last time I let you come to the Oscar party,’ he harrumphed.’
      • ‘‘We're all entitled to a bit of misanthropy now and again,’ he harrumphs when I ask about this, ‘considering the complete craziness of a lot of people in the world.’’
      • ‘‘Some members of the media decide not to write accurately,’ she harrumphs in relation to a question about how her relationship with the press has changed over the years.’
      • ‘Although the media companies harrumph about the dangers of the new technology, they are all well aware of the lesson of the video, and the immense potential profitability of the new digital forms of distribution.’
      • ‘There is scant enthusiasm for a real leader; they seem stolid, harrumphing about white papers.’


  • 1A noisy clearing of the throat.

    • ‘Interviewees have thus been treated to loftily dismissive asides, barely stifled yawns and muffled harrumphs.’
    • ‘Strise harrumphs loudly as he pushes himself to his feet.’
    • ‘With an annoyed sounding harrumph, Alissa stalked away from John and flopped angrily down on the ground next to a large tree.’
    • ‘I think he makes a harrumph sound, but he could be clearing a rogue sunflower seed from the workings of his oesophagus.’
    • ‘And all across the land, you heard muffled harrumphs of agreement from the faithful.’
    1. 1.1 A grumpy expression of dissatisfaction or disapproval.
      • ‘Yin Xi guessed the sound equated somewhat to a harrumph of dissatisfaction.’
      • ‘My antennae go up when people start talking about threats to "human individuality and dignity" - that's a harrumph, not an argument.’


1930s: imitative.