meh“Meh,” that ever-popular expression of indifference or existential apathy, entered into our collective vernacular thanks to a boost from The Simpsons. But whence did meh come from originally? Language talkin’ guy Ben Zimmer has been looking into its etymology for years and seems to have traced it back to Alexander Harkavy’s Yiddish-English-Hebrew Dictionary from 1928. In trying to find out where the Simpsons writers got it, Zimmer managed to get a response from reclusive shaman John Swartzwelder:

…Swartzwelder did have a memory of where he first came across meh, though it wasn’t in Mad. “I had originally heard the word from an advertising writer named Howie Krakow back in 1970 or 1971 who insisted it was the funniest word in the world,” he told me. So let’s thank Mr. Krakow for his unwitting role in the spread of the meh meme.

Case closed, maybe?

[Language Log via Slate]