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Now, by "cough-cough-getalife", do you mean "cough-getalife-cough"? Because [coughs twice] "get a life" isn't funny, but [cough] "Get a life" [cough]. Now that's funny.
John Green, Brotherhood 2.0

When someone needs some... uh... (coughHELPcough) help coming up with an, er... what's the word... (coughIDEAcough) an idea, someone else may be particularly unsubtle about giving the answer. Or an insult or snide comment is made, but is not intended to be heard by someone standing nearby (coughJACKASScough). It's also useful for calling attention to someone's (cough Blatant Lies Cough).

Hey, I heard that!

Anyway, other things that can be hidden between coughs or sneezes are names, as in, "I'm not going to name names but there's one person in this group who's a real pain coughALICEcough," or even entire sentences. Occasionally subverted by repeating the hidden words for clarification, implying that the insult was garbled by a genuine cough and the cougher really just has no respect for the person in question. This is sometimes followed by the other person saying, "Gesundheit."

Someone who is being especially snarky may just say "cough" instead of actually coughing.

Sometimes the cough doesn't hide any words, but indicates complete disbelief at what the cougher is hearing. Rarely, it may be a genuine, instinctive response to something the cougher finds truly egregious.

Rarely related to the Incurable Cough of Death.

*Cough* Examples *Cough*:

    open/close all folders 

    *Cough* Advertising *Cough* 
  • A commercial for Ricola throat lozenges plays with the "coughing to convey disbelief" variant. A politician is speaking at a press conference, but one of his aides keeps loudly coughing whenever he makes a promise. After getting a Death Glare from his boss, the aide leans over to the microphone and meekly asks if anyone has a Ricola he can use.

    *Cough* Anime and Manga *Cough* 
  • The Ocean Group's dub of Dragon Ball Z has Yamcha doing this over one of King Kai/Kaiosama's jokes.
  • The English dub of Lupin III: Part II has Zenigata pulling this twice in a row towards the chief commissioner of the French police department after he turned down Zenigata's request to put a team together to catch the international criminal Lupin because France regards him as a sort of a national icon. Though he didn't know that the chief commissioner was Lupin in disguise.
    Zenigata: {as he is about to leave the room} *sneeze*Penis*sneeze*! Must've caught a cold or something... *sneeze*Asswipe*sneeze*!
  • Jaden's reaction in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX to Dr. Crowler catching a tennis ball in the eye: "*cough* Cyclops! *cough*"

    *Cough* Comic Books *Cough* 
  • There's a scene in Box Office Poison where a hated comics publisher speaks at a convention and he gets this from the audience.
  • Major Havoc: *cough* Bitch.
  • In an issue of Avengers: The Initiative (post-Civil War), while a group of heroes-in-training is headed to Camp Hammond, a mention is made of Hank Pym, who will be waiting there, except not really. Prodigy, one of the people in the bus, immediately responds with "*cough* Wifebeater".

    *Cough* Comic Strips *Cough* 
  • During a meeting in Dilbert the original Pointy-Haired Boss wants to find out why all his division's projects fail, what they all have in common. While the employee sitting at whichever side he isn't looking to is pointing right at the boss, Alice goes for a sneeze-cover: "Haaa-itsyou!" "Gesundheit."

    *Cough* Fanfiction *Cough* 
  • In The Merging Tonks and Harry have a chat in the Magical Menagerie.
    "So you just swooped in and took control of a group of snakes that now pretty much worship you and will follow your every command?"
    "Uhh, yeah?"
    Tonks gave a loud cough that sounded awfully close to "Dark Lord" but he just ignored her.
  • In Though He Slew the Basilisk Ron complains that his father was pulled off of an investigation of biting snuff boxes to help look for Sirius Black.
    "What?" he said, "Snuff boxes are a big deal. You let the small things slide and before you know it people are enchanting who knows what in their back yards."
    Harry burst into a coughing fit that sounded remarkably like flying cars. Ron went pink.
  • In The Butterfly Effect Harry breaks Draco's wrist by pushing him off his broom with accidental magic as punishment for taking Neville's Remembrall. Later Harry, Ron and Hermione visit Neville in the hospital wing.
    "Why are you still bandaged up and Neville isn't?" Ron asked suspiciously.
    "Oh mine was a much more serious break, coming from a curse like that," Malfoy said smugly.
    "Bullshit," Neville coughed under his breath.
  • Do Not Meddle in the Affairs of Wizards:
    Liam Dantes: As Head of the Wizengamot why did you not exercise your authority to push for a new trial for Black once you suspected he might be innocent?
    Dumbledore: I would have once he was recaptured. Once he got away, I had the Kiss order rescinded, but giving him a new trial would've had to wait until he was back in custody so that he could be questioned with Veritaserum and the truth learned once and for all.
    Harry: *cough* bullshit *cough* bullshit *cough*.
  • In Rebellion Rita Skeeter pesters Harry about his unwilling inclusion in the Triwizard Tournament.
    "Well, having a fourth champion makes it news, and you're the youngest champion, and the least experienced of the three champions."
    Kara's sneeze sounded a whole lot like "bullshit."
  • In The Western Sky - Series 2 Hermione is forced to return headship of House Black to the formerly dead Sirius Black. Luna decides to pass headship of House Potter to Hermione so the change will be on their terms and not Madame Marchbanks'.
    Luna: And [Harry] cares for politics even less than I do - as long as I don't give it to someone utterly unsuitable....
    Sirius: Cough*Malfoy*Cough.
  • The Real Us:
    Harry leaned back in his chair, taking another drink of his Butterbeer. "Myself and Hermione gained our Potions grade of 'Outstanding', so naturally, we were in Potions. Ron's 'Dreadful' means that he wasn't qualified, but again, thanks to Molly's interference and threats, he was included in the class. Personally, I think it's because she needed him to learn how to brew certain potions that would help him later in life."
    Hermione coughed 'Amortentia', but other than that, she didn't comment on Ron's potions capability.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: In its sequel Picking Up the Pieces, when Night says they'll need to make it to the Griffish Isles without anyone getting airsick, he coughs Xvital's name, doubling as a Call-Back to her airsickness in the first story.
  • Spider-Ninja: Mikey uses this trope partway through the fic:
    April: Have you guys ever heard of SHIELD?
    Donnie: Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division?
    Mikey: *Cough* Nerd.
  • The (Edit) War for Ash’s Freedom to not be Betrayed has this when Darkern goes into a rant about Ash never winning anything, with Arceus coughing about the Orange league and Battle Frontier arcs.
  • Universe Falls: In "Straight to Video", Dipper starts geeking out over getting a new mystery novel to read in a care package from his and Mabel's mother, and Mabel teases him by coughing out the word "Dork!"
  • A Dip In The Inkwell: In "Powering Down for the Night", Ona does this when convincing Oscarbot 1 to go to sleep. Since she's a robot, however, all she can do is say the word "cough" since she doesn't know how to cough.
    Ona: Y'know, I'm kinda supposed to make sure you guys get to sleep on time.
    Oscarbot 1: One.
    Ona: I mean, technically, I shouldn't even have to do anything because we are all on sleep timers. Cough-cough. Cough.
  • More Fragging Paperwork: Ultra Magnus asks Optimus Prime just what he's been asked to do while the latter is busy. Optimus' response of "Paperwork" sounds suspiciously like a cough, despite the two of them being robots who don't need to breathe. Regardless, it prevents Magnus from understanding what he said, allowing Optimus to leave before Magnus realizes he has to do paperwork.
  • In From Kinship to Family Snape objects to Harry, Ron and Hermione's plan to make and take Polyjuice.
    "You could have gotten yourselves killed, Harry."

    Tobias made sort of sneezing sounds that sounded like "Pot" and "Kettle."

    *Cough* Films — Animated *Cough* 
  • Brother Bear: Recently-turned-bear Kenai is trying to convince moose brothers Rutt and Tuke that he's actually human. Tuke coughs his opinion of Kenai. But Rutt seriously can't understand him, and Kenai knows exactly what he's saying.
    Kenai: I was transformed into a bear... magically. I-I was lifted into the sky by my brother-
    Tuke: Uh-huh... *cough* Crazy *cough* !
    Rutt: Gesundheit.
    Tuke: No, *cough* a fruitcake *cough*.
    Rutt: Are you okay?
    Tuke: *cough* No! *cough* *cough* That bear *cough* *cough* over there *cough*! *cough* He's crazy! *cough*
  • Used by Naveen in The Princess and the Frog to call Tiana a "killjoy" and a "stick in the mud".
  • Home on the Range: Jeb the goat does this when Mrs. Calloway is introducing herself to the recently-arrived Maggie.
    Mrs. Calloway: Good morning, Margaret. What a wonderful surprise to find a fellow bovine joining the ranks.
    Jeb: *cough* *cough* Phony.
    [Mrs. Calloway slaps a tin can onto his muzzle with her tail]
  • In Doug's 1st Movie, the nerds Roger hires repeatedly insult him this way. He never catches on.

    *Cough* Films — Live-Action *Cough* 
  • Bring It On has a character mercilessly skewer a "loser sneezer" for their employment of such a tired joke. The loser sneezer, clearly a one-trick pony, responds to said skewering with another loser sneeze.
  • Animal House. During the Disciplinary Council meeting, the Delta fraternity members protested the Kangaroo Court proceedings by coughing while saying "blowjob". When the Dean yells at them to knock it off, they switch to saying "Eat me".
  • Val Kilmer coughs "bullshit" when Tom Cruise is describing his upside-down hijinks (with a Russian MiG, pervs!) in Top Gun.
  • In Robin Hood: Men in Tights, when Prince John tries to blame all his misdeeds on the Sheriff, the entire audience at the wedding coughs "Bullshit!" in unison.
  • In Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, after Dr. Evil reveals his space-born megalaser which he has decided to call a "death star":
    Scott Evil: (pretending to sneeze) Ripoff!
    Dr. Evil: (confused) Bless you.
  • Also inverted in Wild Wild West, in which the coughing is pointedly absent:
    Gordon: Someone, who will remain nameless - *turns and shouts in the opposite direction* JIM WEST! - decided to jump over the wire, thereby providing us with that exhilarating romp through the cornfield, and that death-defying leap into the abysmal muck!
  • Dumb and Dumber when Harry wants to know how Lloyd got 25 extra bucks.
    Lloyd: Few baseball cards, a sack of marbles, *coughs* Petey.
    Harry: Petey? You sold my dead bird to a blind kid? Lloyd, wh- he- wha- Petey didn't even have a head!
  • Subverted by Jamie in Friends with Benefits, when Dylan is afraid to climb the Hollywood sign:
    Jamie: (cough) Pussy. Oh, sorry. PUSSY!
  • Now You See Me:
    Daniel: (shows his tarot card) The Lovers.
    Henley: (cough) Three minutes.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron: When Thor and Tony start arguing over whose girlfriend is cooler, Maria Hill lets out a *cough* "Testosterone! Excuse me."
  • Gunless: During the heated discussion between Sean and Jack in the schoolhouse about whether Sean is a killer (or only a killer), Larry goes *cough* killer *cough* during a lull in the argument. Sean just looks at him in disbelief and says:
    "Do you think I can't hear you when you do that?"
  • John Tucker Must Die: While in detention, Beth mentions that she and John hooked up, which makes Heather respond:

    *Cough* Literature *Cough* 
  • Harry Potter
    • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Ron accuses Hermione of only liking Cedric Diggory because he's hot.
      "You only like him because he's handsome", said Ron scathingly.
      "Excuse me, I don't like people just because they're handsome!" said Hermione indignantly.
      Ron gave a loud false cough, which sounded oddly like "Lockhart!"
    • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Dolores Umbridge's favoured method of getting attention is pretending to cough before making a pointed comment. An awesome moment on Professor McGonagall's part is her completely ignoring said coughs, before finally offering a throat lozenge.
  • Project NRI
    Louise coughed. The cough suspiciously sounded like “meathead”.
  • A lovely example of the disbelieving cough occurs in 1632, when the Scots cavalrymen who don't yet fully grasp what late-20th-Century firepower can do are stunned that the Americans want them to be ready to pursue an enemy force.
    Alex MacKay: Pursuit? *cough, cough* Doesn't that, ahem, presuppose that you've already defeated the enemy?
  • In The Golem's Eye from The Bartimaeus Trilogy, when Nathaniel ignores him, Bartimaeus coughs out "A-hem" and then "A-thaniel" to get his attention. (Nathaniel goes by "John Mandrake," as nobody is supposed to know a magician's real name.)
  • An inversion of this trope is a Running Gag in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and many adaptations of it. Whenever a guest says something he doesn't want to hear/reply to, Willy Wonka claims that he just can't understand them (specifically accusing Mike Teavee of mumbling), even though they are speaking clearly — or, at one point in the 2005 film adaptation, outright yelling at him.
  • Darth Paper Strikes Back: Kellen writes about an annoying little kid who constantly mocks his skateboarding abilities. Tommy comments, "[The little kid] reminds me of someone. Let's see... a kid who just stands around and complains and insults people all the time? I just can't think who that reminds me of... (cough) Harvey note  (cough)."
  • In the Underdogs novel Tooth and Nail, Joseph McCormick, who will soon have surgery, says he's feeling better and the others don't have to worry. Jack says, "Cough-cough-load-of-rubbish-cough."
  • In the New Series Adventures novel Touched by an Angel, when Rory suggests the Doctor, in his tweeds and bowtie, could pass for a maths student, he replies "Good. Because that is the cool department and I look cool! Right?" Amy says Sure, Let's Go with That, then "put her hand over her mouth and made a cough that sounded like 'geek!'"

    *Cough* Live-Action TV *Cough* 
  • In Studio C's sketch "One Angry Man", the defense in a criminal trial makes the case that the defendant was physically incapable of committing the crime. The judge coughs for a bit, and then states, without coughing, "You're a wimp."
  • In episode 7, Season 3 of Happy Endings 'No Ho Ho', Dave and Pete have this exchange about Pete's gift to Penny.
    Dave: *cough* Big mistake! *cough*
    Pete: What?
    Dave: Nothing, I had something caught in my throat...and you're making a big mistake.
  • In one episode of How I Met Your Mother, Marshall coughs out an entire sentence - a sentence about how he's insinuating something about Robyn and he isn't really coughing.
    • Also:
      Barney: *cough* Lesbian.
      Robin: The cough is supposed to cover the "lesbian".
      Barney: Nah, I'm trying to start a thing where the cough is separate.
    • Another time, Barney takes it to extremes when discussing Zoe's description of her cousin Honey (played by Katy Perry):
      Barney:"Cute means fat *cough*"
      Barney:"Not-fat means ugly *cough*"
      Barney:"I take back everything I said. That girl is extremely attractive *cough* *cough* *cough*"
  • Veronica Mars specifically references the trope in the episode "Like a Virgin". After someone took a false purity test for Meg Manning (she "got" a 48, which for someone who hadn't even gone to second base with her boyfriend of years was delightful to the gossip hounds), she notes the many ways she's been teased, including "slut sneezing". Veronica, for some reason, doesn't get the reference, and Meg has to demonstrate by sneezing and saying "slut" as she does so. She seems embarrassed even by this, but does it again as if to reinforce how lame it is, and shrugs. We then see it in action when the other students do the "slut sneezing" while she's auditioning for the school musical.
  • The Office (US) has Andy and Dwight get into a coughing conversation after their first day of work together.
    Andy: *cough* Idiot.
    Dwight: *cough* You're the idiot. *cough*
    Andy: *cough* Nice comeback. *cough*
    Dwight: *cough* I was *cough* making fun of your comeback. *cough* That's why it *cough* worked! [Andy walks away and Dwight turns to the camera] Well, it looks like I got the best of that interchange. [Starts coughing uncontrollably.]
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer does this a lot.
    • In the episode "Some Assembly Required":
      Cordelia: Why are these terrible things always happening to me?
      Xander: *cough* Karma! *cough*
    • When the Initiative boys complain about Prof. Walsh sending them to look for Spike on Thanksgiving, Riley insists that Spike knowing about them means he's still a threat even with his Restraining Bolt.
      Forrest: (coughing) Mama's boy.
      Riley: That's a nasty cough. You might need to spend the weekend in quarantine.
      Forrest: Oh, no. I'm done coughing.
    • In a later episode, Buffy is tearing into the Watcher's Council about their actions. While she is on the topic of getting Giles re-instated as a Watcher, Giles throws out a *cough* "retroactive" when his salary is mentioned.
    • And from the season after that, this exchange between an active vengeance demon and a former one:
      Halfrek: Oh, [punishing men who wronged women] was just Anya's little raison d'etre. Most of us try to be a little more well-rounded.
      Anya: "Well-rounded", huh? Is that how you explain your thing for bad-parents?
      Halfrek: Oh, that's not a thing. The children need me.
      Anya: *coughing* Daddy issues!
  • That '70s Show example:
    Kitty: So, Laurie, who are you seeing up at the college?
    Laurie: Oh, I'm dating several.
    Eric: *cough* Slut!
    Kitty: Bless you.
    • Another example:
      Pastor Dave: Instead of LSD or PCP, I get high on G-O-D.
      Hyde: *cough* Virgin!
  • One episode of Boy Meets World has Shawn and a teacher doing this.
    Shawn: *cough* Loser!
    Mr. Turner (the teacher present at the time): *cough* Detention!
    Shawn: *cough* Sorry!
  • Happens once on Reba when Van says "*cough* baloney!" But because it's aimed at his wife, an argument ensues.
  • Was something of a running gag in the early episodes of Sabrina the Teenage Witch whenever Mr. Kaft was announcing something. A random student would cough "Loser".
  • Friends had it at least twice: when Monica's correcting the title Ross was buying at the comics shop as a kid ("Seeing what kinda trouble Spider-Man got into that week" "*cough* Wonder Woman") and once when an old hater of Rachel reacts to her table manners ("*sneeze* Typical")
  • The Suite Life of Zack & Cody: When Cody was creating a laser for the science fair, Arwin "innocently" told him how to build it correctly. He wasn't supposed to tell him.
    Arwin:Not *cough* quite! You *cough* need the puf*cough*fer gas!
    • Also, in the episode "A Prom Story":
      Zack: I've got something special with Maddie. I love her, and she loves me. She just...doesn't know it yet.
      Cody: *sneeze* Doofus!
  • Charles Ingram of the British Army once won (the original, UK version of) Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? with the help of a friend in the audience feeding him answers through coded coughs. Although these just took the form of numbers for the options, invariably for the many parodies this spawned he was shown to be using this trope.
  • The Big Bang Theory
    Amy: Your mother thinks you might be losing your mind over me. As a neurobiologist, I was curious.
    Sheldon: Well, rest assured I am in full possession of my faculties.
    Leonard: *Pretending to sneeze* Twenty-five cats!
    Sheldon's Mother: Oh, God bless you, dear.
  • Morecambe and Wise did a sketch in which Eric was supposed to be a 'Memory Man' who could answer any question put to him, but Ernie had to feed him the first answer (Arsenal - a soccer team) disguised by a cough. This became a Running Gag in which any time someone coughed, Eric would shout "Arsenal!"
  • Izzie Stevens of Grey's Anatomy says "sexual harassment!" in a sneeze when Mark Sloan refers to her as a "hot blonde."
  • The Supernatural episode "After School Special" starts with a girl in high school getting taunted with "*cough* Slut *cough* Slut *cough* Slut *cough*...", which leads her to take out her anger on a less popular girl for showing her some sympathy, which leads to her death at the hands of the Bully Hunter ghost possessing the unpopular girl.
  • In My Name Is Earl, a friend of Earl does this while calling him a snitch about three times without Earl catching on, so he just says it out loud. He then coughs for real and blames Earl for making him sick.
  • In Survivor: The Amazon, the camp has just burned down and Rob Cesternino is sharing his thoughts about it in a Confession Cam. Well, it's possible that the fire started due to the huge pile of wood stored at the campsite when Butch suddenly went on a mad quest to get as much firewood as possible, but no one can prove it for sure and Rob certainly wouldn't want to point any fingers as to who might be responsible for the fire... *cough* Butch! *cough*
  • In the Doctor at Large episode "Mother and Father Doing Well", doctors Upton, Stuart-Clark, and Collier are trying to help fellow doctor Huw Evans' wife bluff her way through impersonating a nurse to be present when her husband has stitches put in a cut of his forehead. When she pours a tiny dribble of antiseptic into a glass gallipot at the instruction of Prof. Loftus, the surgeon (from whom they are trying to conceal the deception), Collier fakes a sneeze while shouting "MORE!"
  • In Arrested Development, Michael Bluth hires a publicist to help improve the family's image, and one of her suggestions is for everyone to start getting jobs. When George Michael mentions that he does have a job, Tobias' response is a coughing "Kiss-ass!"
  • Person of Interest. Sameen Shaw does the sneeze version to avoid saying Samaritan over an unsecure line.
  • ER. Pissed off at being disciplined by Mark Greene, Jerkass resident Dave Malucci coughs "Tumor!", suggesting that Mark's recent brain cancer is impairing his judgement. Mark proceeds to suspend him for several days.
  • Rules of Engagement: In one episode, Jeff does this while Audrey is talking to one of her friends, only for Audrey to turn around in annoyance and ask him if he actually believes that she can't hear him if that does that coughing thing. It turns that Jeff really did believe the coughing made his snarky comment inaudible.
  • Saturday Night Live: Done a few times by the Church Lady. For example, when O.J. Simpson was her guest: "A-killer! A-killer!"

    *Cough* Theatre *Cough* 

    *Cough* Video Games *Cough* 
  • If you manage to run out the dialog in the "Stalemate Resolution Associate" scene of Portal 2, Wheatley starts coughing the word "button" at you. They've been discussing that button, out loud, for the last five minutes, so it's anyone's guess exactly what he's trying to accomplish by doing that. Take long enough, and this will eventually culminate in "*cough* *Beat* Oh, just press the button, would ya?"
  • In The Darkside Detective, when McQueen mentions that he's not been on the subway much because he prefers to take a cab, Dooley's reaction is a cough that sounds a lot like "snob".
  • Dithyrambic Bastards:
    Well, as far as you were concerned all that donkey balls was the department of the boys down in *cough*wankers*cough* Prose and Prose-Dramatics.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, if you have Rean totally bomb the exam in Chapter 3, Alisa will comment, "I was expecting a little better performance from a certain someone, though... *cough*Rean*cough*"
  • Episode 4 of Scooby-Doo! First Frights has a recurring gag of the butler Costington coughing before making a remark at the expense of his boss Baron Baron Von Richenstoof, Shaggy, or Scooby.
  • In Ghostbusters: The Video Game, Peter Venkman fake-coughs while referring to Walter Peck as "Preck".
    Venkman: Did I cough at the wrong time?

    *Cough* Web Animation *Cough* 

    *Cough* Web Comics *Cough* 

    *Cough* Web Original *Cough* 
  • One Half-Life 2 machinima, Combine Nation, has a Vortigaunt using this trick to call a metrocop an asshole. When the cop asks what was that, the Vort denies that he said anything.
  • Concession, when Matt's in the Confessional;
    "You don't go to my church, do you, child?"
    "No, sir, my church doesn't have these confessional dealies. I go to Reverend White's church."
    "*cough* Pedophile *cough*"
  • In Zero Punctuation's review of Lollipop Chainsaw:
    Yahtzee: But there are games with certainly worse combat and games with more offensive depictions of women; cough, Metroid: Other M, unconvincing cough.
  • From one playthrough of Kingdom Hearts:
    THD: *Cough* Xehanort!
    N Tom: Nasty cough you got.
  • From a analysis thread of the Star Carrier series:
    StarSword: Also, William Keith apparently groks the concept that space is fucking HUGE, unlike certain other recent writers I could mention. *hacking cough that sounds suspiciously like "J. J. Abrams"*
  • In Dave Knows Wrestling's episode on independent wrestling, Dave talks about the criticism that indie wrestling cheapens wrestling by using big moves and finishers as regular moves, and failing to sell them:
    "For example, moves like the DDT used to devastate, and doing something like a DDT on the outside used to be damn near akin to attempted murder by Kayfabe logic, and while the indies do get a lot of the blame, the mainstream is far from innocent. (*cough*John Cena*cough*)

    *Cough* Web Video *Cough* 

    *Cough* Western Animation *Cough* 
  • Amphibia: In "Temple Frogs", after Polly shows off her command of the Thai language to a classroom full of Thai kids, one of the kids coughs the word "showoff".
  • Subverted in Brickleberry:
    Malloy: *coughs* Slut. Sorry, I had something in my throat before I said "slut".
  • Clone High: The first episode has a cop cough while calling Abe Lincoln a loser after Abe confesses that the beer he provided to the party is non-alcoholic, so no one present is committing underage drinking.
  • Parodied in the Family Guy episode "And I'm Joyce Kinney". It's exposed that Lois was once in a porno. At church, her peers do this trope, calling her things like "sinner" and "harlot". All except the last man, who says "*cough I'm actually sick*".
    • Also parodied in "Stew-Roids". A Running Gag is that one of Chris's newfound friends mocks others by calling them "gay", despite himself obviously being attracted to his male classmates. Later,Connie D'Amico loses her popularity status, and the group insults her for it in-between fake coughs. His contribution is "*coughs* Everyone is gay but me."
  • King of the Hill: When Luanne was dealing with her irresponsible roommates.
    "You know who else had anti-smoking laws? Who was it...oh, yeah -- Hitler!"
    * cough* Nazi! *cough*
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Bart vs. Lisa vs. The Third Grade", the third-grade teacher remarks that Bart came from Krabappel's class (coughSLUTcough).
    • In "She Used to Be My Girl," one-shot character Chloe remarks that she's slept with numerous famous people, including coughCLINTONcough.
    • The gag turns up in "Monty Can't Buy Me Love" when shock jock Jerry Rude asks Mr. Burns to reveal his first gay experience. Mr. Burns assumes that Jerry Rude meant "gay" as in "happy" and reminisces on his father taking him on a picnic when he was six, unknowingly making incestuous innuendos.
      Jerry Rude: Oh, that sounds lovely. (cough) Queer. (cough) Queer.
  • South Park:
    • In Bebe's Boobs Destroy Society, the other girls use this method to call Bebe a slut in the cafeteria when they get jealous of her getting all the boys' attention because of her newly developed breasts.
  • T.U.F.F. Puppy: The Christmas Episode has Snaptrap cough a couple of times while calling the Chameleon a loser.
  • Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones?: In the episode "Gender", Robot and his friends mock their classmate Jamie for getting home economics as his elective by coughing before calling him a "girl".


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Cough Trope Cough


Where are the Ladies?

Thor and Tony quickly explain why their love interests don't appear in Age of Ultron.

How well does it match the trope?

4.9 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / WrittenInAbsence

Media sources: