When I think of the word snort the only sound that comes to mind is that nasally mucus laden inhalation noise. Is that just my only option?

The sentence I'm trying to fit it into: "It’s just going to take a bit more work than I’d hoped.” Steve grinned. Sue ______.

Sue is ____ing because Steve is vastly understating the amount of work they'll need. For more context, Sue is a mixture of playful and curious, but at this moment is having a hard time because she's starting a new job that she is woefully underprepared for.

The sound is maybe a bit like a tsk sound, or maybe a tch. Like a very throaty tsk. I can make the sound, but I don't know if there's a word for them. pssh?

  • 1
    I wasn't sure if I should use the characters proper names (which might be distracting because they are a little exotic). Just in case I generisized them.
    – SomeGuy
    Apr 7, 2018 at 21:48
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    In subtitles, I have seen this described as “scoffing” but I don’t agree with that use so not putting as an answer. Apr 7, 2018 at 21:55
  • 2
    Yes, it's called snorting. snorting does not involve mucous. Pigs snort all the time. Maybe you are thinking of tongue clicking, which a while back gave way to a lengthy discussion. You can breathe in through the nose and wiggle it, that's snorting. Also, snuffling.
    – Lambie
    Apr 7, 2018 at 22:11
  • No, there isn't. +1
    – Mazura
    Apr 8, 2018 at 16:26

5 Answers 5


Huff is another word to describe this action. huff

Express one's feeling of petty annoyance. with direct speech ‘‘Huh!’ Nanny huffed’


Snort is the usual word used to describe this action:

snort to make a sudden loud noise through your nose, for example because you are angry or laughing

  • 1
    Yes, a sudden intake of air coupled with wiggling your nose from side to side. There is also snuffling. Ha ha.
    – Lambie
    Apr 7, 2018 at 22:14
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    Frasier took exception to that: Frasier: You just sniffed. Niles: I didn't sniff, it was a snort of contempt. [sniffs again] Frasier: A snort is out, that was in!
    – bertieb
    Apr 8, 2018 at 9:34
  • Since the question is looking for a noise made by exhaling, and a snort (according to Frasier) is made by exhaling, snort is the right word (contrary to what the question assumes) if the sound is from the nose. If the sound is from the mouth I think a different word is required.
    – David K
    Apr 8, 2018 at 14:30


Scoffing is showing derision or revulsion and someone's statements.

  • I don't think that scoffing is related to exhaling.
    – Ben McKay
    Apr 8, 2018 at 10:38
  • It can be related - onomatopoeia is pshaw. Apr 8, 2018 at 14:04

As a verb: Harrumph, according to Oxford Dictionary:

  1. Clear the throat noisily.

    1.1 Grumpily express dissatisfaction or disapproval.

As a noun: Harrumph, according to Oxford Dictionary:

  1. A noisy clearing of the throat.

    1.1 A grumpy expression of dissatisfaction or disapproval.

Example sentence from the same source:

‘Yin Xi guessed the sound equated somewhat to a harrumph of dissatisfaction.’

Attribution: "Harrumph | Definition of Harrumph in English by Oxford Dictionaries." Oxford Dictionaries | English. Accessed April 08, 2018. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/harrumph.


hem or ahem TFD aka the throat clear wikipedia

the utterance of a sound similar to clearing the throat; intended to get attention, express hesitancy, fill a pause, hide embarrassment, warn a friend, etc.

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