Uff da

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Norwegian-Texan mug
Uff Da Shoppe in Westby, WI

Uff da! (sometimes also spelled oof-da, oofda, oofala, oof-dah, oofdah, huffda, uff-da, uffda, uff-dah, ufda, ufdah, or uf daa) is an exclamation or interjection used to express dismay, typically upon hearing bad news. Of Norwegian origin, the phrase was brought by Scandinavian Americans to the Upper Midwest, New England, and Pacific Northwest regions of the United States during the 19th century.

Danish and Norwegian usage[edit]

In Danish and Norwegian language, uf (Danish and older Norwegian spelling) or uff (current Norwegian spelling) is a mild and polite vernacular interjection used when something is unpleasant, uncomfortable, hurtful, annoying, sad, or irritating.[1][2] The word is an onomatopoeia[3] corresponding to English oof, Dutch oef and German uff. Other similar interjections exist in Danish, e.g. uhu or føj,[1] and Norwegian, e.g. huff.[3] Uff da may be used in Norwegian as a response when hearing something lamentable (but not too serious), and can be translated as "Oh, I'm sorry to hear that".[4] Da is derived from Old Norse þá meaning "then" in this context (similar to e.g. the response "ok, then"); both da and English then (from Old English þanne, þænne, þonne) are derived from Proto-Germanic *þan (at that (time), then).[5] The Swedish exclamations ojdå and usch då are similar in meaning, with Swedish corresponding to Norwegian da.[6][7][8]

North American usage[edit]

Uff da is a general purpose expression of surprise, astonishment, exhaustion, relief and sometimes dismay. It can therefore be a substitute for common obscenities. [9] Within Scandinavian-American culture, Uff da frequently translates to: "I am overwhelmed", somewhat similar to the Yiddish phrase oy vey.

The phrase is a marker of Scandinavian heritage. The term is predominantly heard in the upper Midwest, which has a significant population with Scandinavian roots. It has been applied to names of places and events, such as:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "uf". Den Danske Ordbog. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
  2. ^ "Søk i Bokmåls- og Nynorskordboka". Retrieved 2009-09-19.
  3. ^ a b "uff". Det Norske Akademis ordbok. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
  4. ^ Haugen, Einar (1985). Norwegian English dictionary : a pronouncing and translating dictionary of modern Norwegian [Bokmål and Nynorsk], with a historical and grammatical introduction. University of Wisconsin. ISBN 0-299-03874-2
  5. ^ "da". Det Norske Akademis ordbok. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  6. ^ "Uff Da defined". Sons of Norway Blog. March 25, 2010. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  7. ^ Anette Broteng Christiansen (April 18, 2012). "'Uff da!' – A Piece of Norway in the U.S." Thor News. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  8. ^ "ojdå". Wiktionary. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  9. ^ Rob Lein. "Vikings bumble in draft? Uff da". Bismarck Tribune. Retrieved 2009-09-19.
  10. ^ "Uff-Da Airport". airnav.com. 28 February 2019. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  11. ^ "UffDa Fest!". Spring Grove Lions Club. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  12. ^ "Uff Da Days". Ostrander, MN. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  13. ^ "Uffda Day". rutlandnd.com. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  14. ^ Martin, Jonathan, "Court Battle Shifts the Political Terrain for Senators in the Heartland", New York Times, October 7, 2018. Retrieved 2018-10-08.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]