A 1928 Yiddish-English-Hebrew Dictionary May Be the First Official Record of “Meh”

Photo: Alexander  Harkavy

The term “meh,” defined as “an expression of  indifference or boredom,” entered the Collins English Dictionary in 2008. According  to Know Your Meme, the term’s origins trace back to a 1992 “Melrose Place”  online forum in which one commenter wrote, “Meh… far too Ken-doll for me…” The  Simpsons, however, is largely credited for introducing meh into the common  parlance. A 1994 episode had a store clerk replying “meh,” and in a 2001  episode, Lisa Simpson spells “meh” out loud to express her indifference,  according to Know Your Meme.

According to  Google, the word’s popularity as a search term peaked on November 2008,  corresponding to its incorporation into the dictionary, and its steady usage has  been on the rise since then. A couple years back, the New York Times Magazine’s “Meh List” began offering an outlet to  express the most meh of meh moment, and there’s more even more meh to be found  by searching Twitter for #mehlist-worthy  items that seem to permeatemost people’s lives.

Meh, however, likely emerged decades before “The Simpsons” did it firstSlate’s  Ben Zimmer traces the word back to Alexander Harkavy’s 1928, fourth edition  Yiddish-English-Hebrew  dictionary, which lists מע (me).

The definitions as an interjection meaning “be it as it may” and an adjective  meaning “so-so” track fairly closely to current uses of meh. As  you can see, Harkavy defines it separately as a “bleating” interjection, which  matches his entry in the 1898 edition of his dictionary: baa!  bleat!

Read more:  http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/smartnews/2013/09/a-1928-yiddish-english-hebrew-dictionary-may-be-the-first-official-record-of-meh/#ixzz2ei2KRHRp