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Pooh poohed

Posted by Smokey Stover on March 18, 2010 at 07:38

In Reply to: Poo pooed posted by john on March 18, 2010 at 00:10:

: : : Where does the saying "Poo pooed" originate from?

: : "Pooh" is an interjection used to express contempt, disapproval or dismissal. It likely comes from the sound of puffing something away, sort of like "pshaw". To pooh-pooh something is to reject it with distain. Harrumph!

: ooops......disdain

John is quite right in his definition and in his spelling. However, the duplicative "pooh-pooh" is a verb meaning to say "pooh" to something, thereby rejecting it scornfully. I have always wondered how authors knew that "pooh" was spelled with an h. The Oxford English Dictionary provides a clue. It comes from an earlier (16th century and later) "poh!" with the same implication of scorn.

When I was a child, "pooey!" was a frequent exclamation in my set, but tended to mean disappointment more than anything else. It was the childish equivalent of "damn!" although it sometimes meant "You're wrong" or "I won't." "Pooey on you" was the childish equivalent of "Go to hell!" The OED cites several examples of its use by adults, but there is something disingenuous in the adult uses, or so it seems to me.

I have heard many adults say, "Oh, pooh!" with the same sense as the interjections, "Oh, hell!" and "Damn!" but without the blasphemy. I don't think the users, in the contexts in which I heard it, had in mind the word's other meaning (when spelled "poo"), namely stercus. But I'm not sure.