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Oh well

As an interjection expressing resignation or mild disappointment, oh well has no comma. To place a comma between oh and well would change the meaning of the phrase. While “oh, well …” is similar in meaning to “I see, then ,” the commaless “oh well” usually means “that’s okay,” “nothing can be done,” or “tough luck.” “Oh, well …” is the start of a statement, and “oh well” is a standalone statement.

Examples

As a standalone sentence

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But all that failed. Oh well. [AV Club]

If they see I brought my phone in, they’re going to be pissed. Oh well. [National Post]

Her maiden name, for example. Anybody? Just as I thought. Oh well. [Irish Times]

As part of a sentence

Oh well, he has more fun trying then we ever will. [Los Angeles Times]

He accepted gracefully that, oh well, winning a jumps race is all part of the fun. [New Zealand Herald]

Oh well, I suppose writing anything is impressive from a dead person. [Guardian]

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Comments

  1. reardensteel says:

    Oh, well in that case, we need to be careful about that comma.

  2. For what it’s worth, the quotations in the OED seem to be evenly split on the comma.

  3. Abdul Akbar says:

    I’m pretty sure it developed from the phrase “all well” and is simply a product of ignorance.

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