Definition of ahem exclamation from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



BrE BrE//əˈhem//
, BrE//əˈhəm//
; NAmE NAmE//əˈhem//
, NAmE//əˈhəm//
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used in writing to show the sound of a short cough made by somebody who is trying to get attention or to say something that is difficult or embarrassing Ahem, can I make a suggestion? More Like This Exclamations aargh, ah, aha, ahchoo, ahem, aw, bah, boo, coo, d’oh, eek, eh, er, eww, gee, ha, hey, ho ho, ho-hum, hooray, huh, mm, oh, oho, oi, ooh, oops, ouch, ow, oy, pah, phew, psst, sh, tsk tsk, tut, ugh, uh, uh-uh, uh-oh, um, whoopee, whoops, woo hoo, wow, yay, yippee, yuck, yumSee worksheet. Word Originmid 18th cent.: lengthened form of hem, a sound made when coughing of clearing the throat to attract attention or express hesitation.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: ahem