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Is there a term for a person's audible reaction, the quoted written form of which we typically find spelled as heh or hmph?

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This would be as opposed to "hmmm" which is more a reaction of wondering or pondering. (e.g. "Hmmm", I pondered) –  purefusion Nov 8 '11 at 12:33
    
Hmph isn't really "as opposed to" Hmmm. The latter is often just a more "deferential" way of saying I don't [wholeheartedly] agree. –  FumbleFingers Nov 8 '11 at 14:09
    
Duly noted, thanks for that clarification. :) –  purefusion Nov 8 '11 at 16:45

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I think they express different sentiments (and thus call for different words).

Heh (a slight laugh) could be described as a chuckle.

Hmph (a sound of disapproval) could be described as a harrumph.

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+1 for harrumph, which I think is fine both as a noun and a verb. I think OP didn't mean Heh as in a chuckle - the harrumph context can indicated by lots of onomatopoeic variations, including Heh, Hum, Hah, Hmph, etc. They're all vague though - I think anything implying disapproval/exasperation is covered by harrumph even if the actual sound is transcribed as Tut, Tsk, Pffft, or whatever. –  FumbleFingers Nov 8 '11 at 13:59
    
Hrm. Yeah, I guess I use the textual "heh" more as a reaction meaning "that's interesting" moreso than as a chuckle, but it does make sense in that respect. My wife also suggests scoffing as an alternative term for "hmph" which admittedly sounds better as a verb than saying (e.g. "Hmph", I scoffed.) –  purefusion Nov 8 '11 at 16:50

A female friend who was baffled about why her husband wasn't having some minor health problem seen to said

I told him he needed to go see the doctor.

I suggested that he had

responded with an inarticulate grunt

She agreed and was--perhaps--enlightened. At least she bullied him into giving a real response and eventually into seeing the doctor.

Anyway, it's not a single word or a particularly sonorous phrase, but I think it covers the whole category. Learning to interpret the ones your SO uses is a whole different problem.

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I think the word you're looking for is "onomatopoeia".

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"Well, you can't exactly use it as a verb. Heh." I onomatopoeiaed. –  purefusion Nov 8 '11 at 16:51
    
While heh or hmph is correctly an onomatopoeia, I think the OP is looking more for a word like "sighed" that is relevant to the specific case. –  simchona Nov 9 '11 at 0:32

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