What are some words that are used to describe the sounds made while a person is physically exerting themselves?

I think there are generic terms like grunt or groan, but I am looking for onomatopoeia that can be used in speech or dialogue.

An example of where these types of words might be used could be:

"[insert word here], why won't this thing budge at all! I am pushing as hard as I can..."


2 Answers 2


Words that one would hear during such efforts would be "Umph!" and "Hrrmph!". There are not many such words since speaking is not an efficient use of air during periods where breathing is controlled and shortness of breath is to be avoided.


huff and puff

Just hearing the huff and puff of bodybuilders in the gym was exhausting

The joggers huffed and puffed their way up the hill

  • Exert.../ɪɡˈzəːt,ɛɡˈzəːt/ = apply or bring to bear (a force, influence, or quality). make a physical or mental effort. "he needs to exert himself to try to find an answer" (source Google)
    – Ram Pillai
    Sep 23, 2020 at 6:40

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