A History of Meh, from Leo Rosten to Auden to The Simpsons
September 8, 2013 10:48 AM   Subscribe

The problem with tracing meh over time, as with so many fleeting interjections, is that it’s terribly underrepresented in the linguistic and lexicographical literature.

Scene 2, starring W.H. Auden (1969):

The British poet W.H. Auden didn't think much of the first lunar landing, and he wrote a poem about it.

Worth going to see? I can well believe it.
Worth seeing? Mneh! I once rode through a desert
and was not charmed: give me a watered
lively garden, remote from blatherers

Scene 3, starring the writers of The Simpsons (c. 1994):


Lisa waits at the main desk. A clerk arrives and plops down a two-foot tall pile of fan-fold computer paper covered with tiny print.

Here you go. The results of last month's mayoral election. All 48,000 voters and who each one of them voted for.

I thought it was a secret ballot.

posted by whyareyouatriangle (13 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
posted by byanyothername at 11:03 AM on September 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

I read it. And I'm really trying to stop myself, but I can't. I thought the article was... well... meh.
posted by ubiquity at 11:26 AM on September 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Etymology articles are usually open ended, works in progress meandering along until some new bit of evidence appears.
posted by stbalbach at 11:39 AM on September 8, 2013

To my ear meh and mnyeh are two different words. "meh" is "um" + "eh" while "mnyeh" is "maybe" + "yeahno".
posted by grog at 11:40 AM on September 8, 2013

Direct communication from Swartzwelder? We have a new prophet.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:54 AM on September 8, 2013

Meh, used as a metafilter comment, has been called out as a tired, lazy epithet.
posted by various at 12:52 PM on September 8, 2013

Mehmes, all the way down.
posted by spitbull at 1:08 PM on September 8, 2013

Also, no yeah.
posted by spitbull at 1:09 PM on September 8, 2013

How is it that Bugs Bunny never gets credit for his contributions? I find it cartoonist.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 2:54 PM on September 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

with apologies to conductor Zubin Mehta
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:59 PM on September 8, 2013


for my next trick:

posted by Auden at 5:50 PM on September 8, 2013

Not exactly, but close:

Bart: "Nothing you say can upset us. We're the MTV generation."

Lisa: "We feel neither highs nor lows."

Homer: "Really? What's it like?"

Lisa: "Eh."
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:25 PM on September 8, 2013

The best part of "meh" is how well it fits between "win" and "fail" so that people don't have to think about the quality of a given thing for any longer than it takes to drool out a single syllable. This is efficient.
posted by Legomancer at 4:55 AM on September 9, 2013

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