Grammar question regarding the expression "D'oh!"

If the apostrophe sign in a contraction is used to denote a missing letter (or letters), what is the long form of the expression “d’oh” as popularized in the tv show The Simpsons?

he’s = he is
isn’t = is not


d’oh = ???

My guess would be that the apostrophe is a pronunciation guide.

Or the missing letters could be: D(on’t know that)oh!

Nah, I like my first WAG better.

d’oh = did I really just do/say that? I did? [crestfallen] Oh.

[sub]happy to be of service[/sub]


I think that in this case the apostrophe may indicate a glottal stop.

But if you’ve ever heard Homer say “D’oh!” you’d know there’s no stop in there, glottal or otherwise.

I always spelled it as it was pronounced (Doh!-- One syllable) until I read the ‘official’ spelling.

Dough! :eek:

Actually, I can recall quite a number of times where Homer has distinctly said “D’oh!” rather than a single syllable “Doh!”

If you’re a native English speaker, the glottal stop is not a sound that you’re likely to pick up on unless you’re listening for it.

How about: d’oh = duh + oh

There is no long form of it because it’s not “D’oh” or “Doh”, it’s <annoyed grunt>.

It’s Homer about to curse (“damn”) but then, reflexively, thinking better of it.

Oddly enough, the writers of “The Simpsons” never use the word “D’oh!” in the scripts. They use the phrase “annoyed grunt.” “D’oh” is the work of Simpsons fandom.

This once again proves my theory: no one sees my posts!

Again, not quite true. “D’oh” has been seen in writing more than once on the show. For example, in the episode in which Lisa’s saxophone gets flattened, the inscription on it reads, “Dear Lisa, always know that your Daddy loves D’oh!” and the new saxophone reads, “Dear Lisa, here’s hoping that this new saxophone gives you many years of D’oh!” I’m paraphrasing a bit, but I garauntee you that it is spelled “D’oh.”

I believe that it’s similar to a glottal stop. The apostrophe is to indicate the hardness of the D which is said harder than even a regular hard D is pronounced, closer to a T. It also could be borrowing from French much like D’artagnan. Now someday, I’ll find out why there’s a hairdresser in this town called D’Buzz. That’s a real mystery.

No one has yet addressed the origins of Homer’s “d’oh.”

The actor who gives Homer his voice has acknowledged what we Laurel and Hardy fans have known all along: that the primary source of Homer’s interjection is James Finlayson, the balding, mustachioed Scotsman who was Stan and Ollie’s frequent nemesis in their great shorts and features of the 20s and 30s.

Fin’s “doh” (the spelling we fans have always used) tended to be longer and more drawn-out – as opposed to Homer’s rather curt and explosive one. It usually came as a reaction to some stupidity wrought by the boys, though it could be used as an expression of exasperation or outrage as well.

First use I know of: the 1929 Laurel and Hardy short “Men O’War” (their fourth sound short).

BigStar303’s explanation also explains the apostrophe, I think.

Since Finlayson’s “doh” was longer, it could have been spelled “doooooooh!” or something similar. Since Homer’s is shortened, the apostrophe could be there because of the missing o’s.

So, it’s like Homer’s “Do’h” is a contraction of Finlayson’s “Dooooooh”.

When I was a kid, I recall reading an Archies comic (this would have been late 1960s), where the Moose character’s dumb utterance becomes a popular thing to say around the school. The dumb utterance was “D’UH”, with the apostrophe.

At the time, I pronounced it with a glottal stop (although I didn’t know what it was called then), and later I learned that this would just be pronounced like the simple “duh”.

I’m not saying that this is the source for Homer’s tag line, but they might have a common ancestor.

Arken already provided some information on the above; I’ll also mention that Matt Groening occasionally used this term in his “Life in Hell” comic strip. The one that pops to mind is one in which his cartoon surrogate is reading stories to his two children; Groening actually spelled it “D’ohh!”