Is there an injection or at least an onomatopoeia for a longing sigh that works in writing? An example would be two colleagues are talking about the new member of the team on which one has a huge crush:

[the word], he/she is soooo cute. I really should make a move.

All the positive interjections I know (oh, wow, phew, gee, awww) don't seem to work... at least for me (not a native speaker of English) To my perception, they are either too surprised, too amazed, to exhausted or too relieved. They are all not longing enough.

  • Is there anything or is the only way *sigh *?
  • Could I use sigh in spoken English or does it only work in writing?
  • Sighs are real phonetic phenomena, so they're representable in IPA. However, since most people are innocent of phonetic representation, that's not helpful. There's no standard spelling for it, either, any more than there is for a fart. And saying "Sigh" in speech makes as much sense as saying "Fart". It's the real thing that has the effect, not its spoken name. Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 18:50
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    I don't understand this question. What meaning do you think your example soooo conveys that isn't effectively implying too surprised, too amazed or to exhausted or too something else? Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 18:52
  • @JohnLawler... that makes sense I guess, but in German it is possible to actually say "Seufz" to mean ... a sigh. It is on a meta level, if you will. You're not actually sighing but you would be in the situation you're talking about. An actual sigh is more connected to the here and now than is that "speechified" one. Anyway, I am looking for an equivalent for the German "Hach/Ach"
    – Emanuel
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 18:56
  • @fumblefingers... okay forget about the "too something else"... but neither of the injections I mentioned fit the context. It's hard to phrase why they don't but I hope you can see why I would say that they don't.
    – Emanuel
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 18:58
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    Actually, "sigh" is used in spoken (US) English on occasion.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jul 12, 2015 at 3:29

3 Answers 3


It's true that when that feeling of longing and desire strikes, words just aren't adequate.

A drawn out mmmmmmmm-Mmmmmmmmm!" should be understood to be an expression of approval (with the emphasis on the 2nd Mmmmmmmm).


A 2-note whistle, like a wolf call but kind of done under one's breath also conveys the same meaning of "oh boy!".

If those suggestions aren't enough, a long, audible inhale followed by an equally long and audible exhale have the same meaning - if performed as part of the same interaction with the friend and the object of desire.

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    Is there any (commonly known/understood) way to capture the breathing thing in writing?
    – Emanuel
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 19:13
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    Maybe like this...."sssssnnnnniiiifffff, puhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" was the only sound poor, lovesick Joe made as he breathed in and out, slowly, deeply and with great longing". The exhale should most definitely start with a soft "p" sound. Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 19:18
  • I think the O.P. is after the sound of a contented exhale. I'd probably spell that starting with an h, but, unfortunately, words like heh and huh, which seem to be close aurally, are reserved for their sharper counterparts, usually uttered with contempt or derision. I think your exhale captures it, but how would we spell that?
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 21:11
  • @J.R., I know, right? It's that sound after the first "p" or "h" that is the tricky part. I had to resort to descriptive words because everything else just sounded like a raspberry. lol! Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 21:21

Onomatopoeia for a sigh of relief... whew! For example, "that was close" or "thank goodness that is over".


There is definitely a need for a longing sigh that does not appear to be adequately represented in the English language. J.R is correct, the best way forward would be to write an elongated sigh with a 'H' in front. But how to express a breathing sigh? Maybe try this?... Huhhhwwwm.

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