The Interjections 'Gah' and 'Meh'
The interjections 'gah' and 'meh' appear to have gained much currency in mainstream Internet English usage over the past few years. While I do not think I have ever heard someone actually vocalize gah, my father regularly describes some of the television show episodes he watches as being "meh."
The reason why I possess a knee-jerk distaste for both of these interjections (much more so for gah than for meh, admittedly) is because these literary devices, to me anyhow, smack of the lemming condition, "me-to!-ism," and Internet meme-itis. Do you know what I'm getting at?
Nevertheless, I do have a (if you'll pardon the cliché) soft spot in my heart for meh because (a) my father uses this interjection; and (b) the contributors to the Television Without Pity discussion forums, whose writing talent, observational acuteness, and keen wit I so deeply admire, use meh on a seemingly neverending basis.
How shall we begin? First of all, I wonder, as a nearly seven year veteran of living in the Bible Belt of the United States of America, if some conservative Christians or Jews become in any way offended when they read a blogger or Internet writer's use of gah, thinking that this usage denotes a euphemistic transformation of God. Viz. "Oh mah Gah!"
Well...truth be told, no, there is no such correlation. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that the interjection gah is of "echoic" origin, and that the word is "an exclamation indicating impatience or exasperation." Thus, there exists no connexion between gah and a deity...unless you want there to be.
For further enlightenment on the Zoroastrian spiritual aspects of gah, please see the Global Oneness Commitment Web site, where you can peruse their 'Wisdom Archive on Gah.'
I'll wrap up our gah discussion by providing two literary references from the OED. The first published appearance of gah is from Robert Malise Bowyer Nichols' 1917 book of poetry Ardours and Endurances. Following is the relevant quote from page 38:
The German line Vanishes in confusion, smoke. Cries, and cry Of our men, ‘Gah, yer swine!’
Gah! Walks like a jaguar with the gripes.
Okay. Now let's turn our attention to meh. What can I say about this interjection that Ben Zimmer hasn't already said in his exceedingly well-done essay "Meh-ness to Society" at Language Log? Not much, frankly. I implore you to read Ben's post in its entirety, immediately.
Have you read the article yet? If not, let me summarize its key points briefly. Dr. Zimmer, with his characteristic light touch, first defined meh by stating that the word is "used as an interjection like blah, evoking dullness or apathy."
Zimmer then speculated that the interjection meh may have arisen etymologically from one of the following sources:
3. The Simpsons (reference)
There you have it, friends. Do with this information what thou wilt. Personally, I still get 'creeped out' and turned off when I see gah in online text, I don't mind reading meh too much, and I always enjoy listening to my father give me his opinions of his favorite T.V. programs.
Speaking of interjections, I think my wife's favorite vocal interjection (that is to say, if you consider "most frequently used" to be equivalent to "favorite") is BLECH!
Enjoy your day.