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meh

interjection

used for showing that you do not care what happens or that you are not particularly interested in something

meh

adjective

not very good

'Will this pseudo-couple last? Meh. Don't really know, don't really care. It will probably last as long as they can milk the PR then fade out until the next movie comes along …'

Bosh 3rd December 2007

'It doesn't sound bad, although this pitched-down, singalong version of 'Black Dog' is a little … Meh.'

Idolator, New York 12th December 2007

'What do you fancy for lunch?' – 'Meh.'
'Want to go for a walk?' – 'Dunno … Meh.'
'Do you like my new shirt?' – 'Meh.'

Anyone who regularly uses chatrooms or instant messaging will almost undoubtedly be familiar with responses consisting only of this little sequence of three letters. For the uninitiated, meh is a new interjection peppering news items, messageboards, chatrooms and blogs across the English-speaking Internet, and it's an informal linguistic equivalent of a simple shrug of the shoulders.

the word meh is a useful response for someone who doesn't want to answer an awkward question, and it's often used when someone has nothing specific to say

Impossible to accurately define, meh is cropping up increasingly to mean something like a non-commital OK, whatever, if you want, I don't mind … Circumstances surrounding its utterance (and, if spoken, tone of voice) give it a more specific meaning, but in general terms, meh usually implies some kind of indifference to what has just been said.

Meh is a useful response for someone who doesn't want to answer an awkward question, and it's often used when someone has nothing specific to say (and so wants the other person to interpret the meh however she or he chooses).

Popular usage has also caused meh to morph from an interjection into an adjective, and in this sense meh means something like 'mediocre', 'uninspiring' or simply 'not very good', as illustrated in this example:

'For a drop dead gorgeous girl like Jen, she could honestly do better. The dress, a black, white and yellow floral print strapless number, is perfectly meh. Her plain black shoes are predictable.'

Osoblog4th December 2007

Adjective meh also occurs attributively, for example: a meh movie.

Background – meh

No one is completely certain how the use of meh originated, but most sources quote a 2001 episode of The Simpsons as one of the earliest examples. In a programme entitled Hungry Hungry Homer, Homer asks Bart and Lisa if they would like to go to the Blockoland theme park (a parody of Legoland):

Bart and Lisa: Meh.
Homer: But the TV gave me the impression that …
Bart: We said, 'Meh!'
Lisa: M-E-H, meh.

There is however evidence to suggest that meh first appeared in The Simpsons several years earlier, in 1995, but wasn't at that time recognised by subtitle transcribers, and got changed to Nah (meaning 'No', so not strictly equivalent to the original expression of indifference).

A more recent development from the adjectival use, is the coining of a related noun, meh-ness (also written mehness), which is now emerging as an informal synonym for mediocrity, or 'the quality of not being particularly good'.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 7th January 2008.

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