Sometimes when a grumpy old man gets annoyed, he makes noises like clearing his throat. Does grumbling or grunting define that action? Is there a more appropriate word or an idiom for that?
Sometimes when a grumpy old man gets annoyed, he makes noises like clearing his throat. Does grumbling or grunting define that action?
- definitely not. That consists of complaining words, it is not a sound.
- close, but that isn't it. Grunt doesn't include throat-clearing, and it is an inhalation.
Is there a more appropriate word or an idiom for that?
Done properly, it is deep in the throat.
The best growl is accomplished with the mouth closed, as a harsh exhalation, through the nose only. No work is done in the nose, all the work is in the lower throat, vibrating it. The deeper the better.
A poor growl is high in the throat, see harrumph below.
A growl is a purposeful act, not due to accident or sickness.
Young men used to be able to do it.
is high in the throat, and can be accomplished almost completely in the nose and mouth, that is, without involving the throat. The best grunt is actually a heavy inhalation, with the nostrils and the back of the mouth loose, so that it vibrates with the air flow.
Animals grunt and growl.
is close, but distinctly different, it doesn't have that full throat-clearing sound that men can make, from deep in their throats.
I would describe harrumph as an amateur or beginner growl. It is more of a sound of displeasure, whereas growl is a serious threat.
has a proper meaning, the sound a person makes when they have emphysema, or when their windpipe is opened by some horrible injury.
It is accomplished as an inhalation, a strained one, with the throat contracted, or closed with a hole somewhere that is open. It causes alarm.
Men who can growl on demand can usually wheeze on demand, and it is just as scary to women and children, but for different reasons, a growl being a threat and wheeze being an alarm.
For others, the wheeze is involuntary, due to accident or sickness.
I know one woman who, after she got past the fear of my purposeful wheeze, wanted to learn how to do it. Now she can wheeze much higher than I can, women's voices being higher, and all that. But she can't growl, much as she tried.
Don't concern yourself with what writers write, they are making a royal mess of the English language. They are hardly an authority, and they commonly misuse words. And that is separate to the use of the literary device: the purposeful use of incorrect words, to connote something.
harrumph /həˈrʌmf/ verb; gerund or present participle: harrumphing
- clear the throat noisily
- grumpily express dissatisfaction or disapproval.
"skeptics tend to harrumph at case histories like this"
He harrumphed and said, ‘I am deeply obliged’.
wheezed his annoyance
transitive verb : to utter with a sound of wheezing [breathe with difficulty with a usually audible sibilant or whistling sound ]
In Darkness Waiting John Shirley - 2013
The old man wheezed his amusement. He shifted to accommodate his bags. “You think you workfor yourself, huh?