Monday, November 17, 2008

The origins of meh

posted by Brit

So the word 'meh' has entered the Collins English Dictionary. Used to express indifference, vague contempt or boredom, the official acceptance of meh is an example of the influence of internet-speak.

As usual, the Americans think they invented it (they think they invented all sorts of things, like baseball and motor cars. Meh!).

However, today I can exclusively reveal the true origins of the word on Thought Experiments. It is a corruption of Auden's magnificently-timed 'Mneh', which features in the sixth stanza of Moon Landing. In context, the meaning is unambiguous.

16 comments:

  1. Did Auden have a word for "boggingofftoAmericaandtakingtheirmoneywhilstrubbishinghishosts"
    ?
    My dogs make that sound whilst peeing.

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  2. Wots gone wrong with blog Brit, gremlins again?

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  3. Seems ok to me at the moment - what's the problem?

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  4. A quick squirt of WD40 seems to have resolved the problem
    The text box had acquired a slider and the ability to type outside of the box.
    Mustn't grumble.

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  5. Bryan's blog does seem unusually susceptible to gremlins.

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  6. meh! (that's the first and, hopefully, last time I'll use it).

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  7. Meh! sounds like a Mesopotamian deity of some sort.

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  8. You guys are all missing the point. Knowing the true definition of "meh", you would realize that using an exclamation point after it is essentially an oxymoron. At best "meh" can be followed by a period, but probably better by the three dot ellipsis...

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  9. If Auden's use of "Mneh" does indeed count as invention of the term "meh," it was still invented by an American, as Auden held American citizenship since 1946. Thanks for playing.

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  10. A mere technicality, David.

    Auden is as American as Greg Rusedski is British.

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  11. Man, you guys are still bitter about W.H., 60 years later. He offered to enlist many times, but they didn't want his little pasty butt. Don't hate the playa, hate the game!

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  12. Wow, Malty, you guys are still bitter about W.H., 60+ years later. He offered to enlist and fight in the war many times, but they didn't want his little pasty butt. Don't hate the playa, hate the game!

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  13. Glad to know that "meh" has gotten some recognition.

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  14. I still hold to its origins being Yiddish. An interesting discussion here: http://www.languagehat.com/archives/002716.php

    I wonder if anyone has ever pestered the Simpsons writers about their source?

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