A pooh-pooh (also styled as poo-poo) is a fallacy in informal logic that consists of dismissing an argument as being unworthy of serious consideration. Scholars generally characterize the fallacy as a rhetorical device in which the speaker ridicules an argument without responding to the substance of the argument.
Authors have characterized the fallacy as a form of a straw man fallacy, where an argument is described as inherently worthless or undeserving of serious attention. Some authors have also described the fallacy as the act of "ridicul[ing]" an argument as though it were "a myth", and some characterize it as the act of dismissing an argument "with insults without responding to its substance in any way". Other authors describe the fallacy as the act of dismissing an argument "with the wave of a hand". Some sources also suggest the fallacy is an expression that involves "sneer[ing]", "ridicule", or "malicious comments about the proponent of the argument".
According to the Oxford Dictionary of English, the term "pooh-pooh" originated in the late eighteenth century as a "reduplication" of the word "pooh", which was a common expression of disgust. Some authors also suggest the term originated as a "representation of the act of spitting in sign of contemptuous rejection".
Relationship with the term "party pooper"
Some commentators have suggested that the term "party pooper" is derived from the phrase "pooh-pooh". These commentators argue that the "disdain" a speaker has when "pooh-poohing" a subject could also "describe the negative connotation of a party pooper". However, other sources suggest the term "party pooper" is derived instead from "pooped", a slang word for "exhausted" or fatigued" and that the phrase "party pooper" describes an individual who is tired of a party.
Use in comedy
The word is often used in comedy due to the obvious opportunities for innuendo.
In The Simpsons episode Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?, Homer Simpson is employed as a food critic by an editor who tells him: 'We need someone who doesn't immediately pooh-pooh everything he eats.' Homer replies: 'No it usually takes a few hours.'
Well, I hope so, Blackadder. You know, if there's one thing I've learnt from being in the Army, it's never ignore a pooh-pooh. I knew a Major who got pooh-poohed, made the mistake of ignoring the pooh-pooh. He pooh-poohed it! Fatal error! 'Cos it turned out all along that the soldier who pooh-poohed him had been pooh-poohing a lot of other officers, who pooh-poohed their pooh-poohs! In the end, we had to disband the regiment. Morale totally destroyed...by pooh-pooh!— General Melchett
|Look up pooh-pooh in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- "Professor Haeckel on Darwin, Goethe, and Lamarck". Nature. Macmillan. 26: 534. 1882. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
- See, e.g., Lurie, Morris (2001). Seventeen Versions of Jewishness: 20 Examples. Common Ground. p. 92. ISBN 1863350438.
- Munson, Ronald; Black, Andrew (2016). The Elements of Reasoning. Cengage Learning. p. 257. ISBN 1305886836.
- Virginia Tech Intellectual Prop. (1999). Language and Logic. Kendall Hunt Publishing Company. p. 119. ISBN 0787262439.
- See, e.g., Munson, Ronald; Black, Andrew (2016). The Elements of Reasoning. Cengage Learning. pp. 149, 257. ISBN 1305886836.
- Dwight, Joyce Ingle (1976). Is It Really So?: A Guide to Clear Thinking. Westminster Press. p. 115. ISBN 0664247830.
- Stanley, Maurice (2002). Logic and Controversy. Wadsworth. p. 98. ISBN 0534573789.
- Stevenson, Angus (2010). Oxford Dictionary of English. OUP Oxford. p. 1380. ISBN 0199571120.
- Wedgwood, Hensleigh (1859). Dictionary of English Etymology, Vol. 1. p. xiv. ISBN 9781230255484.
- Toeniskoetter, Clare (April 6, 2014). "The etymology of "party pooper"". Michigan Radio. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
- Wentworth, Harold; Flexner, Stuart Berg (1980). Dictionary of American Slang. Crowell. ISBN 0690006705.
- Blackadder Goes Forth (General Hospital, BBC TV 26 October 1989)