Suppose you are going to give a lecture or simply you are going to explain something to a group of people. On the other hand, you have got a cold and your voice has changed, so you want to apologize for this change in your voice which may affect your lecture.

What's the best word or phrase to describe this change in the voice?

One might say:

I'm sorry if my voice is not good (or it's not as usual)

I have found Hoarseness which refers to abnormal voice changes, but I'm wondering if I can use it in this situation (a voice change because of a cold) and say:

I'm sorry for my hoarse voice.

If not, what's the best word or phrase to say this (idiomatically)?

2 Answers 2


Idiomatically, I would just say;

"Please excuse my hoarseness today, I have been suffering from a cold."

That is short and sweet, and explains the situation, but does not place undue emphasis on it.

  • 4
    I agree. A possible synonym is raspy, as in something like: "I'm sorry my voice is so raspy; I'm getting over a cold."
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 15, 2018 at 14:17
  • 5
    I think it is useful to say yes, when an OP puts something idiomatically. "my hoarse voice." is fine.....
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 15, 2018 at 14:52

A number of ways to describe a hoarse or rough voice come to mind.

We say someone has a husky voice. Yes, same spelling as the dog. No, it doesn't mean they sound like a dog or stare at you with a doge smile. It means their voice is hoarse and dry. It could be their natural voice or a result of illness or emotion.

Examples: See YouTube examples.


This girl has a husky voice coming back from a protest, saying of herself "(I am) a sick person with the sexiest voice around."



I'm sorry my voice is husky from a cold.

Also you could use throaty, croaky. I would say throaty implies a deepness in sound, coming from the throat. Croaky similarly suggests the voice is low and deep.

I'm sorry my voice is kind of throaty/croaky today from a cold.

More commonly, raspy also works.

Hey did you hear the teacher today in class? Her voice was so raspy.

A comment said these word are "all literary". I disagree. There is nothing literary about "raspy" or "husky". Added some examples.

The word husky has another polysemous adjective meaning burly and beefy, used to describe (usually) men's physique. It has influenced the other meaning of a kind of sound marked by hoarseness. It is sometimes associated with a male voice, but so are hoarse, deep and low voices.

  • 3
    Croaky? [idiom: to have a frog in one's throat].That is really funny. Yours are all literary. And husky voice has another cliché meaning for a type of male voice....
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 15, 2018 at 14:50
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    @Lambie Re: husky. What you are referring to is actually polysemes of the word husky. Yes, they are related, and one is affected by the other. I feel like I should just invoke dictionaries: M-W's full and exact definition: "hoarse with or as if with emotion". Etymologically speaking, this definition has a much longer history than the other one. I could talk about this in chat if you are interested.
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented Sep 15, 2018 at 15:06
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    He has a husky voice, yes. But, if a woman goes to give a speech, she will not say: I'm sorry for my husky voice. Or "throaty voice". Come on.....of course the word is common. What is literary is to apply husky to a hoarse voice due to illness. To be hoarse with emotion, yes, that is "literary". The question was about what one might say, not what one may write. "Polysemes" [ahem] in English are different meanings of a word.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 15, 2018 at 15:10
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    @Lambie - I’m with you, and am glad someone advised the learning community at large to use throaty and husky with caution. (Sure, a dictionary might regard croaky and raspy as synonyms, but learners come here to learn about the things dictionaries won’t necessarily tell us.)
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 15, 2018 at 16:39
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    'Husky' often has positive connotations of being attractive, as does 'throaty', but 'hoarse', 'croaky', and 'raspy' do not. Commented Sep 15, 2018 at 23:08

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