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Pooh-poohed

  • Pooh-poohed is an odd idiom with roots in the 1500s. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words, or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, in the same boat, bite the bullet, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the idiom pooh-poohed, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.


     

    Pooh-poohed means to have expressed disdain, impatience, contempt, or dismissiveness. The idiom pooh-poohed is a verb, related terms are pooh-pooh, pooh-poohs, pooh-poohing. The expression pooh-poohed has its roots in the 1500s, when the word pooh was only an exhalation of disgust or impatience, similar to the words fft! or pish! By the 1600s, the reduplicated form pooh-pooh came into use. Pooh-pooh is an exact reduplication, meaning the exact same word is repeated. The word pooh-pooh became a verb in the early 1800s. Note that the spelling poo-poo means excrement.

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    Examples

    That has not been true of President Donald Trump, who has pooh-poohed the danger of the new disease, played down case counts, and insisted that the new disease will soon taper off. (The Atlantic)

    If what’s happening in and to America right now had been authored by a Machiavellian script writer it might have been pooh-poohed as just a bit too much, having a deadly pandemic blow through Boston while Tom Brady’s telling us goodbye, on St. Patrick’s Day no less, relegating an ongoing presidential election to the back seat, making it momentarily irrelevant. (The Boston Herald)

    Rex Ryan apologized Friday for a particular word he used while pooh-poohing the five-year, $100-million contract the Dallas Cowboys gave to receiver Amari Cooper last month. (The Los Angeles Times)


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