Definition of throat-clearing in US English:

throat-clearing

noun

  • The action or an act of clearing or trying to clear phlegm from the throat by coughing or hawking, or of coughing slightly before speaking so as to speak more clearly, to attract attention, or to delay speaking when hesitant.

adjective

  • Of, relating to, or characterized by this.

Origin

Early 19th century; earliest use found in Laetitia-Matilda Hawkins (1759–1835), writer.