Posted by R. Berg on July 02, 2001
In Reply to: P.U. THAT STINKS posted by michaelj on July 02, 2001
: IS IT P.U. OR PEW OR SOMTHING ELSE AND WHERE DID IT ORIGINATE?
It's a word, not a pair of initials, and there are several spellings. The Oxford English Dictionary has an entry for "phew," defined as "a vocal gesture expressing impatience, disgust, discomfort, or weariness." About the origin, it says "Representing the action of puffing or blowing away with the lips." The earliest quotation there has the spelling "pheut" and is dated 1604. Other spellings given are phu, phew-ew, pfew, and phugh. Another entry contains the further spellings pho and phoo, and the definition is "An exclamation expressing contemptuous rejection or making light of anything."
If I remember correctly, a Disney cartoon skunk was named Pepe LePew, with an obvious implication of "bad smell." It looks as if you can spell it just about any way you want.