Is there a better word to sum up the malaise of modern youth, jaded and overexposed to such a variety of media, and unable to express their apathy towards the world with anything more articulate than a simple three-letter utterance!?
To be honest, I think that’s a little unfair on this generation. While it might seem like an obviously modern word, meh might have a fairly long history. It seems that the word might be Yiddish in origin, as there are records of an exclamation mnyeh meaning either “be it as it may” or “so so,” going back at least to the late 19th century.
What really popularised the word though, was its use in The Simpsons. It was first used in the programme in the 1994 episode Sideshow Bob Roberts, and has been a standard feature of the average Springfieldite’s vocabulary ever since. It seems strange to think the word is so commonplace now, almost entirely thanks to one television programme. But then when that television programme has the amazing popularity and cultural influence that The Simpsons has had, it’s perhaps not so surprising that it could influence our vocabulary to such an extent, even if you think more recent episodes are, well… meh.
I actually quite like the word. It can be aggravating when used in an offhand, uncaring manner, especially when it’s a response to a well-crafted argument. But when used well, it really captures a sense of sheer indifference. The sound of it just matches the feeling so well. And we all need to express the fact that we don’t care about something at times, and meh does a good job of doing that. It’s a perfectly cromulent word that embiggens any vocabulary.