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My grandmother makes noise like "sssshhhh" in very cold weather.

which word can I describe this activity/sound?

Thanks,

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    I think she is trembling (from the cold weather), and the sound she is making is hissing, which I'm not used to. (It's typically Brr...) However, I think she might be gasping or panting. – Damkerng T. Dec 26 '13 at 10:46
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Your grandmother is shivering. The word you are using is called an onomatopoeia, which is a word that is spelled in such a way as to make the sound.

Different cultures around the world make sounds differently. See, for example, this Wikipedia page. Often, Americans will spell the sound "brr." In Russia, I saw it spelled "zhzh" (actually it was in Cyrillic, but this is the English equivalent).

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    Thanks, @DamkerngT. Aren't they fun? When I've traveled and met new folks, comparing the way we vocalize sounds always seemed lighten the mood and lead to a stronger connection. – Scotty Dec 26 '13 at 19:36
  • They're really fun. I also took an opportunity to update some Thai words there too. :) – Damkerng T. Dec 26 '13 at 19:37
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"Brrr!"

Pronunced "Burr, it's cold out!"

You can also roll the "rrr" if your flappy English speaking tongue can manage it!

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/brr

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What about "teeth chattering from cold"?

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