AskDefine | Define blah

Dictionary Definition

blah n : pompous or pretentious talk or writing [syn: bombast, fustian, rant, claptrap]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

  1. nonsense, drivel, etcetera
  2. a general feeling of discomfort, boredom, etc

Adjective

  1. dull and uninteresting
  2. low in spirit

Interjection

blah
  1. implies vomiting, usually directed at a subject

Related terms

Translations

Extensive Definition

In English, blah is a word that is sometimes used as an expression for words or feelings where the specifics are not considered important to the speaker or writer for emotions.It is not often seen in formal writing, except when transcribing speech. It differs from a speech disfluency such as "um" or "er" in that blah is a word used deliberately to represent other words, rather than as an accidental or temporary interjection into speech. Blah is also used when the speaker cannot say what was intended. "Blah" is also mimed behind people's backs to suggest that they talk too much or that they talk about useless topics for no reason. The word "Blah" can also be used in a mocking or sarcastic tone.
"Blah" is a token word with no meaning of its own, usually used to illustrate generic, boring speech. It may be used to fill in blank space, or to replace another word or phrase. It's for this last purpose that blah is sometimes assumed to mean something negative because it is used to replace a word that may be unpleasant, but blah itself is neutral. If spoken aloud the tone can usually be used to determine the speaker's intent.
"Blah" is also used within a compound noun, suggesting a psychological state or expressing an opinion; for example, February blahs describes a generally depressed condition during winter. It is also viewed as a word expressing indifference, or lack of a preference. It may also be used to imply that something is not impressive, or it is boring, bland, or without character.
Several alternatives or variants of the word can be observed today, such as bleh, blech, bla, meh or bah, although some differences may be perceived in certain contexts. Generally these variants would only be used in place of blah to show unimportance, disgust or disinterest. The word used is typically left to individual preference.

Etymology and History

As of 1913, Webster's Dictionary had not listed this word. It appeared roughly between 1915-1920, meaning "idle, meaningless talk". Its meaning soon was also likened to "bland" or "dull". In 1922 Collier's utilized the term "blah blah" to label a tedious length speech on a subject. It was later used to reflect a depressive state in the late 1960s, first attested in 1969, and believed to have been influenced by the blues. Blah most of the time usually means blank thoughts or expressions.
The word likely originated as an echoic, or onomatopoeia. In this case representing a block of speech that is drawn out, boring or vacuous enough, so that all that is heard is the repetition, "blah, blah, blah".
Historically similar, echoic, and potentially influential words include:
  • Blather - 1524, Scottish word, meaning "to chatter" or "babble"
  • Blab - 1535, meaning "one who does not control his tongue" circa 1374
  • Blabber - 1362, (of blabbermouth)
Wine, Women, and War, a 1918 journal of Howard Vincent O'Brien (Jul 11, 1888 - Sep 30, 1947) covering World War I and published in 1926, is one of the first known publications to use the word.
The sociolect variety that has been emerging in Internet culture has further fueled the popularity and diversity of this word. As of May 2008, a search in the Google search engine results in 34.8 million hits.

Examples of use

Negative

  • I feel blah. — adjective equivalent to "apathetic," related to the above mention of the February blahs
  • Blah, blah, blah, blah… - to show irritation towards someone who speaks monotonously or on a tedious topic. Additionally, may be a placeholder for long, drawn-out or overused terms: 'Yours sincerely, blah blah blah...'
  • Also, when I… blah… - to show that the speaker forgot what he/she was talking about
  • Blah you! — as a replacement for a (usually monosyllabic) expletive
  • Hmmmm… blah — to show feelings of indifference
  • Sometimes people say "blah blah blah blah blah" to represent their monotonous attitude.
  • This tastes so, I don't know, Blah? - to help describe a lack of any specific flavor, used mainly to indicate it's flavorless.

Other

  • "The Blah Story" is a novel by Nigel Tomm. The first volume of "The Blah Story" was published in 2007.
  • It is often used as generic placeholder text, as in Blah blah goes here or blah.txt
  • "Blah, Blah, Blah…" is a song by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, featured in the 1931 movie Delicious
  • "The Daily Blah" is a fictional newspaper featured in Archie comics.
  • In cartoons, if someone is speaking while a character is thinking, the speech can be made into blah as a place holder. In an episode of Spongebob, this is used to exploit Patrick's stupidity because he says blah while talking to gary while spongebob is thinking. It turns out he was actually saying 'blah blah blah' the whole time.
  • In the now-defunct Fox series Greg The Bunny, the character Count Blah ended each sentence with "blah", a likely reference to a similar use by The Count of Sesame Street.
  • Some people use "blah" as a code, such as in morse code - "blah" being a dash, "blahblah" being a dot, and "blahblahblah" being a space.
Blah is a commonly used word in the world of slang.

See also

Notes

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Laodicean, Olympian, acedia, aloof, aloofness, apathetic, apathy, arid, ataraxia, ataraxy, balderdash, baloney, banausic, barren, benumbed, benumbedness, bilge, blah-blah, blahs, blank, blase, blather, blatherskite, bloodless, bop, bosh, broken-record, bull, bullshit, bunk, bunkum, characterless, cold, colorless, comatose, comatoseness, crap, dead, desensitized, detached, detachment, dim, disinterest, disinterested, dismal, dispassion, draggy, drearisome, dreary, dry, dryasdust, dull, dullness, dusty, effete, elephantine, empty, etiolated, everlasting, eyewash, fade, flapdoodle, flat, gas, guff, gup, harping, heartless, heartlessness, heavy, hebetude, hebetudinous, ho-hum, hogwash, hokum, hollow, hooey, hopeless, hopelessness, hot air, humbug, humdrum, in a stupor, inane, inappetence, indifference, indifferent, inexcitable, insipid, insouciance, insouciant, invariable, jejune, jog-trot, lack of appetite, languid, languidness, leaden, lethargic, lethargicalness, lethargy, lifeless, listless, listlessness, long-winded, low-spirited, malarkey, monotone, monotonous, moonshine, nonchalance, nonchalant, numb, numbed, numbness, pale, pallid, passive, passiveness, passivity, pedestrian, phlegm, phlegmatic, phlegmaticalness, phlegmaticness, piffle, plodding, pluckless, plucklessness, pointless, poky, ponderous, poppycock, prolix, resignation, resigned, resignedness, rot, scat, shit, singsong, slack, sloth, slow, sluggish, sluggishness, solemn, sopor, soporific, soporifousness, spiritless, spiritlessness, spunkless, spunklessness, sterile, stiff, stodgy, stoic, stuffy, stupefaction, stupefied, stupor, superficial, supine, supineness, tasteless, tedious, tommyrot, torpid, torpidity, torpidness, torpor, treadmill, tripe, uncaring, unconcern, unconcerned, uneventful, uninterested, unlively, unvarying, vapid, wind, withdrawn, withdrawnness, wooden
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