Some have speculated that meh's origin is Yiddish because of its similarity to the interjection "feh". For example, the word appears in the 1936 Yiddish song Yidl Mitn Fidl in which bleating meh rhymes with disapproving feh.
As early as 1992, "meh" appeared in a posting to a Usenet Internet forum[dead link] in a discussion referring to the television series Melrose Place. The word's first mainstream print usage occurred in Canadian newspaper the Edmonton Sun in 2003: "Ryan Opray got voted off Survivor. Meh."
Meh's popularity surged after its use on The Simpsons. It was first used in the 1994 episode "Sideshow Bob Roberts", when a librarian reacts to Lisa's surprise that voting records are not classified, and later in "Lisa's Wedding" after Marge weaves "Hi Bart" on a loom to try to pique her son's interest in weaving, to which he responds "meh". In the 2001 episode "Hungry, Hungry Homer", Lisa spells out the word for emphasis ("M-E-H"), after Homer tries to interest her (Lisa) and Bart into going to the theme park "Blockoland". American lexicographer Benjamin Zimmer wrote in 2006, "Whatever Yiddish origins the interjection might have had, they have been lost in post-Simpsons usage." Zimmer contacted Simpson's writer John Swartzwelder, who was responsible for "Hungry Hungry Homer," who said "I had originally heard the word from an advertising writer named Howie Krakow back in 1970 or 1971 who insisted it was the funniest word in the world." Zimmer also contacted the writers of the other two episodes but they could not remember where they heard the word from.
Lexicographer Grant Barrett wrote about meh and d'oh, "I suspect they're both just transcribed versions of oral speech, which has any number of single-syllable sounds that mean a variety of things."
In December 2009, meh was included in the BBC News Online list of 20 words which defined the decade.
"This is a new interjection from the US that seems to have inveigled its way into common speech over here".
"It was actually spelled out in The Simpsons when Homer is trying to pry the kids away from the TV with a suggestion for a day trip. They both just reply 'meh' and keep watching TV; he asks again and Lisa says 'We said MEH! M-E-H, meh?!' "
The inclusion of a neologism in a dictionary caused some controversy. Sam Leith, writing in the Daily Telegraph, described the appearance of the word, following suggestions received from the public as a "gimmick", before concluding it was a "useful" word.
Harper Collins' definition of "meh" included a "real example" of usage:
"As in 'the Canadian election was so meh'."
When complaints arose over this choice of example, Harper Collins' lexicographer Cormac McKeown, who chose the election reference, insisted that he meant "no slight to Canada."
- Benjamin Zimmer (September 6, 2013). "A History of Meh, from Leo Rosten to Auden to The Simpsons". Slate. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
- "Bothered much? 'Meh' is a word". Sky News. November 17, 2008. Retrieved November 23, 2008.
- Bierma, Nathan (April 13, 2007). "'Meh' joins ranks of little words that do grunt work". Chicago Tribune. p. 2. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
- Barnes, Steve (May 5, 2007). "Meh...: A little word replaces the indifference of 'whatever' – like you care", Times Union, p. D1.
- "'Meh' - The Simpsons Make Word History". Simpsons Channel. November 19, 2008. Retrieved 18 September 2010.[dead link]
- "'Meh? Fail? GOP Debate Elicits Words of Disappointment'". Visual Thesaurus. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
- Dent, Susie (2009-12-14). Words: The final 20. In A portrait of the decade, BBC News, 14 December 2009. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8406898.stm.
- Hoyle, Ben (November 17, 2008). "Looking for a word to describe how bored you are? Try meh", The Times, p. 21.
- Leith, Sam (November 17, 2008). "'Meh' is more useful than 'weaselnose'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved December 4, 2009.
- Boswell, Randy (November 18, 2008). "Canadian politics: The definition of 'meh'". Canwest News Service. Retrieved December 3, 2008.
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