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New Word Included in Dictionary? Meh

November 17, 2008

It’s true. “Meh” is now in the Collins English Dictionary. I’ve never used the word, in print or otherwise, but I see it a lot, and I really admire the people who get it right. To me, it always read like a three-letter shrug; the people who really get it insert it into their text so that the reader actually sees that shrug.

It makes sense, too, that it’s in the dictionary. “Meh” fills a linguistic need, a gap: English really didn’t have a single word to express indifference the way “yes” or “no” work. “Meh” is as good as anything else, especially now that “whatever” has been Paris Hiltonized to death.

The rise of the cybersphere has created a whole new emphasis on the written word. People use email, text, MSN, chats, forums, Facebook, MySpace, blogs, whatever … they communicate in writing, not by voice, and so all kinds of crud has crept into the vernacular. The first time I heard someone actually say “LOL” at the end of a remark, I cringed. But I like it when people write “meh.” Do they say it? Never actually heard it. But I’m sure they do.

The Collins people asked the public to suggest new words for their latest dictionary, words that had come into use but were not “official.” Meh won. Others, as reported by The Associated Press, include: “jargonaut” (a fan of jargon); “frenemy” (an enemy disguised as a friend); and “huggles” (hybrid hugs and snuggles). I absolutely love jargonaut, but I’ll take a huggle.

The best part of this? Wherever the word came from, pretty much every expert agrees it was made famous on The Simpsons. The idea that I live in a world where the Simpsons can enhance and augment the language makes me smile. No indifference here.

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7 comments

  1. I like ‘meh’. I’m also rather partial to ‘fail’ and ‘pwned’, although I have yet to master their usage.


  2. At one point I was going to write a book called “The Tao of Meh” but was too, like, meh to do it.


  3. I hear it occasionally at work and I’ve used it in random conversations (such as “how was the film last night?” “meh” – complete with so-so hand gesture). I like how it sounds.


  4. pwned meh….. long time ago


  5. I think the old version of ‘meh’ is ‘bah! humbag’, isn’t it?


  6. I actually shrug when I write/say meh. A good, old fashioned throw-hands-up-but-not-palms-up-because-that-would-be-too-much-effort shrug. It’s a relieving word. In the same way swearing lowers blood pressure, i think “meh” lowers stress levels.


  7. frenemy? oh my god i think i just died a little inside.



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