Where did this strange but totally satisfying word come from? Ugh.
‘Ugh’, in its current English spelling, is said to date back to the late 17th Century. It’s meant to be an onomatopoeic word that – presumably when said quickly and quietly – sounds like a cough. Ideally, a cough of disgust.
We see ‘ugh’ as cough used in Edgar Allen Poe’s 1846 story: The Cask of Amontillado.
‘He turned towards me, and looked into my eyes with two filmy orbs that distilled the rheum of intoxication.
“Nitre?’ he asked at length.
“Nitre,” I replied. “How long have you had that cough!”
“Ugh! ugh! ugh! — ugh! ugh! ugh! — ugh! ugh! ugh! — ugh! ugh! ugh! — ugh! ugh! ugh!”
My poor friend found it impossible to reply for many minutes.
“It is nothing,” he said at last.
Header Art: Dianna Bonder. Coco Loco Studios