Bah humbug is an exclamation of skepticism and disgust, as well as irritation, generally associated with the protagonist of Charles Dickens’ classic; A Christmas Carol.
In the novel, Ebenezer Scrooge is using the exclamation as a kind of catchphrase, whenever the joys and beauties of Christmas are mentioned by others in the book.
The phrase consists of two distinct parts; “bah” which is a call of cynicism, and irritation and “humbug” which is a word for jest, hoax or deception.
Origin of the term
The iconic phrase was adopted by Charles Dickens in his 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol.
Despite this, the expression has a longer history; “humbug” had been documented as a student slang word since 1751, and had been in continuous use in the 19th century and after, thanks to the aforementioned author, who had immortalized the phrase in his magnum opus.
Spread of the term
Since the novel of Dickens was published, “bah humbug” had been the iconic tool for giving voice of one’s skepticism, regarding popular holidays.
It is predominantly the modern day Grinches, who are utilizing the expression, seizing every opportunity to belittle the holiday spirit and joy of others.
Urban Dictionary users started describing the meaning of the expression in 2007, with a bunch of other entries being written since then.
- Dictionary.com – Bah, humbug