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(an utterance similar to the sound of clearing one’s throat, used to attract attention, express doubt or a mild warning, etc.)
Contemporary Examples

US Airways inadvertently tweeted an—ahem—racy photo involving a lady and a toy plane.
Plane-Related Incidents Reach New Level of Weird Rachel Hochhauser April 15, 2014

The comedian also doesn’t buy the congressman’s uncertainty as to whether the photo is actually of his, ahem, weiner.
Weinergate’s 9 Best Moments The Daily Beast Video June 1, 2011

If she gets too, ahem, close to her boyfriend Giovanni, she gives up her unicorn hunting eligibility.
Best YA Novels of 2010 Shannon Donnelly December 19, 2010

Christie then lambasted “our leaders today”—ahem, President Obama—who “have become paralyzed by [a] desire to be loved.”
WATCH VIDEO: Must-See Moments from the Republican National Convention The Daily Beast Video August 30, 2012

In the Financial District, Casset Gelin said she was more interested in his, ahem, performance on the job than anywhere else.
Survey: Anthony Weiner Could Still Be New York Mayor David A. Graham June 2, 2011

Historical Examples

He would throw half a dozen fits, right now, if he knew you were––ahem!
The Spoilers of the Valley Robert Watson

A symbol, a symbol of the bonds which are crushing the brave spirits of our—ahem!
The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum

ahem, Miss Nellie, when we go back home, will you promise me to say nothing about this part of your lesson?
A Waif of the Mountains Edward S. Ellis

I respect the natural indignation of an outraged father, but—ahem!
Cy Whittaker’s Place Joseph C. Lincoln

“I scarcely recognised you in that—ahem—that costume,” he added, smiling sarcastically.
The Missing Prince G. E. Farrow

a clearing of the throat, used to attract attention, express doubt, etc

attention-getting interjection, 1763, lengthened from hem, imitative of clearing the throat.


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