Uff da (sometimes also spelled huffda, uff-da, uffda, uff-dah, oofda, ufda, ufdah, oofta, or uf daa) is an exclamation or interjection expressing bafflement, surprise, or dismay. Of Norwegian origin, the phrase was brought by Scandinavian Americans in the Upper Midwest, New England, and Pacific Northwest regions of the United States during the 19th century. The Swedish exclamation oj då is similar in meaning and usage.
North American usage
Uff da can be used as an expression of surprise, astonishment, exhaustion, relief and sometimes dismay. Within Scandinavian-American culture, Uff da frequently translates to: "I am overwhelmed", somewhat similar to the Yiddish phrase oy vey. The phrase has become a marker of Scandinavian heritage, particularly for people from Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconsin, northern Illinois, Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Western Washington. Rutland, ND holds an annual October Uffda Day Scandinavian food festival with parade that was a date on the state political calendar in 2018. Uff da can often be used as an alternative for many common obscenities.
In Norwegian, uff or huff is an interjection used when something is unpleasant, uncomfortable, hurtful, annoying, sad, or irritating. Uff da is most often used as a response when hearing something lamentable (but not too serious), and could often be translated as "Oh, I'm sorry to hear that".
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