[ huh-ruhmf ]
/ həˈrʌmf /
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verb (used without object)

to clear the throat audibly in a self-important manner: The professor harrumphed good-naturedly.
to express oneself gruffly.



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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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Origin of harrumph

First recorded in 1935–40; imitative
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for harrumph

  • “The most dangerous men are those who are in charge of war,” he harrumphed.

    What Does Julian Assange Want?|Tunku Varadarajan|July 28, 2010|DAILY BEAST
  • The Phoenix harrumphed several times in its throat and shuffled its feet.

    David and the Phoenix|Edward Ormondroyd
  • She harrumphed a bit, as suspicious as she usually is, and I went to the stove for more coffee.

    Cue for Quiet|Thomas L. Sherred

British Dictionary definitions for harrumph

/ (həˈrʌmf) /


(intr) to clear or make the noise of clearing the throat
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012