Used to represent a clearing of the throat, typically to attract attention or indicate embarrassment or hesitation in speaking.
Mid 19th century: imitative.
- Ahem! Excuse me, can I have everyone's attention, please?
- The speaker coughed ahem to clear his throat before continuing.
- The witness hesitated, then said ahem before giving her testimony.
- Ahem! I'm sorry to interrupt, but I think you made a mistake.
- The presenter hesitated and said ahem before revealing the results.