Meanings: “Meh”

March 2, 2012

It is a word on the rise. According to the Boston Globe’s Ben Zimmer, it’s “an exclamation, ‘an expression of indifference or boredom’, and as an adjective, it means ‘mediocre or boring’.”  (The quotations are from The Collins English Dictionary.)

Zimmer thinks it comes out of Yiddish.  “I checked with Ben Sadock, a Yiddish expert in New York, and he turned up a tantalizing early example. In the 1928 edition of his Yiddish-English-Hebrew dictionary, Alexander Harkavy included the word meh (written in the corresponding Hebrew letters) and glossed it as an interjection meaning “be it as it may” and an adjective meaning “so-so.” (Meh is also used in Yiddish to represent the bleating of goats, but Sadock doesn’t think the two types of meh are necessarily related.)”

About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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