Uff da

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Norwegian-Texan mug
Uff Da Shoppe in Westby, WI

Uff da! (sometimes also spelled huffda, uff-da, uffda, uff-dah, ufda, ufdah, 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 ojdå is similar in meaning and usage.[1] [2] [3]

Norwegian usage[edit]

In Norwegian, uff or huff is an interjection used when something is unpleasant, uncomfortable, hurtful, annoying, sad, or irritating.[4] 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".[5]

North American usage[edit]

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. Uff da can often be used as an alternative for many common obscenities. [6]

The phrase has become a marker of Scandinavian heritage. As a result, the term is predominantly prevalent in the Upper Midwest, United States––a region with large populations of people with Scandinavian roots––and has been applied to names of places and events, such as:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Uff Da defined". Sons of Norway Blog. March 25, 2010. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  2. ^ Anette Broteng Christiansen (April 18, 2012). "'Uff da!' – A Piece of Norway in the U.S." Thor News. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  3. ^ "ojdå". Wiktionary. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  4. ^ "Søk i Bokmåls- og Nynorskordboka". Retrieved 2009-09-19.
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ Rob Lein. "Vikings bumble in draft? Uff da". Bismarck Tribune. Retrieved 2009-09-19.
  7. ^ "Uff-Da Airport". airnav.com. 28 February 2019. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  8. ^ "UffDa Fest!". Spring Grove Lions Club. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  9. ^ "Uff Da Days". Ostrander, MN. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  10. ^ "Uffda Day". rutlandnd.com. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  11. ^ 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]