When someone is suppressing grief, we sometimes describe the subjective sensation as "a lump in the throat." Apparently this is may be due to conflicting urges to expand or contract the muscles of the glottis.

If a person is doing this, and they try to speak, there may be some audible modulation to the sound of their voice associated with this.

Imagine you're listening to their voice on the radio only. You could call it a "shake", "quiver", or "tension" in the voice.

Is there a better, more specific word for this sound?


2 Answers 2


Choke with grief is a common and enduring locution. Here is an example from 1823 in May you like it, by a country curate by Charles Benjamin Tayler

Naomi woke from her reverie: " yes, I am well ," she said, in a voice half choked with grief, and waving her hand, "order the coach." The man had scarcely left the room, ere she burst into an agony of tears.

And here's an example from 1989 in The Voice in the Margin: Native American Literature and the Canon by Arnold Krupa:

The old chief choked with grief and tears flowed down his cheeks. Covering his face in his blanket, he remained silent for a few moments. Then wiping away his tears, he continued:...


I resort to Yiddish1, which has a perfect word for the phenomenon you've described:

verklempt: choked with emotion (German verklemmt = emotionally inhibited in a convulsive way; stuck)

1 Yiddish is a language used by Jews around the world. Originating in Central Europe around the 12th Century, Yiddish incorporates bits of other languages — German, Hebrew Polish and other Slavic languages. Written with the Hebrew alphabet, Yiddish doesn’t translate directly into other languages. English Yiddish is written phonetically — as it sounds. When reading Yiddish, you may see variations in how words are spelled, e.g. oy and oi. It’s all about how it sounds.

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