To describe the action of inhaling through one's nostrils and then blowing it back out as an expression of frustration?

Or just blowing out through the nose without inhaling with the same emotion.

Would that be a snort? A huff? Or something else? I usually read the term "snorted" used in the context of laughing. Huffing, I think is when you do the same thing but breathing through your mouth, right? I don't see that word mentioned as much.

Anyways I imagine this being a behavioral tick for one of my characters when he's frustrated. Though he doesn't quite have nostrils (being an ant folk, he has spiracles that kind of function in the same way. He can do that not only through the spiracles near his snout, but also through his abdomen as well. Think: Hissing cockroach type behavior. The level of aggravation / frustration he feels dictates how many spiracles get involved and how intense this "snort" or whatever you'd describe. I've done "hiss" but I want to expand a bit more so I'm not relying on the same word all the time.

The word I'm sure is useful for more than just bug characters. I've observed it in myself. My old cat used to express frustration in a similar way through his nose.

  • How about "grunt"? – Alexander Nov 13 '17 at 21:53
  • I tend to think of a grunt as using the vocal cords. This behavior is similar but more quiet, maybe less easy to pick up from other characters unless they are in close range. – BugFolk Nov 13 '17 at 21:58
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    Without vocal chords, it's just "sigh". – Alexander Nov 13 '17 at 22:04
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    My thought process is kind of like this. I see an image/ movie and then try to find the words for it.Temple Grandin has a more coherent way to express it. (though my visual mental abilities are nowhere even close as great as hers. It is the general idea though.): grandin.com/inc/visual.thinking.html – BugFolk Nov 13 '17 at 23:11
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    Welcome to SE! Most of us are active members on many of the different sites LOL. I know I have about.... 20 on my list I am a part of with about 10 of them I actively read up on. You can learn a lot just from reading the questions. My favorites are the ones in astronomy in particular for learning. – ggiaquin16 Nov 13 '17 at 23:28

It sounds like you're asking for

a word for a bug character exhaling sharply through the spiracles on its abdomen or face

If that's the case, I'd suggest:


Hiss has generally negative connotations, so I think it would fit well with showing frustration. Just make sure readers know the hissing is coming from his abdomen (or "nostrils"). :] I'd also make sure the hissing is clearly connected to frustration. Maybe through some clearly-frustrated dialogue?

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  • "Hissed through the spiracles of his/her abdomen" is what I tend to tag it as. So far I've used it with arguments and in the emotional build up/ escalation before a fight fight scene. But It doesn't always have to be so intense. There can be just a quiet noise as a sign of frustration with one's own self or disappointment. – BugFolk Nov 13 '17 at 23:04

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