Did you ever write a paper for school or for work multiple times, only to look at it and just say, “Gah…what is even on this page?” This scenario is precisely what happened to me tonight. Not once. Three times. This column is a result of “Gah.”

Johnny Galecki’s Dr. Leonard Hofstedter often uses “gah” as a favorite expression of frustration
(Picture courtesy of CBS)

According to the Urban Dictionary, “gah” is an interjection that denotes frustration and/or excitement. For example, “Gah! I only scored a 95 on my last science exam. I’ll never get into the science club again.” According to, “Gah” is an interjection used to express disappointment, frustration, dismay or the like, as in “Gah! I need to cancel our plans this weekend—too much work.”

This phrase is new to my vocabulary. I used to use “AUGH”, which was Charles M. Schultz’s favorite phrase for an exasperated Charlie Brown. As the years passed, I found myself pronouncing the word more as it was spelled, which took the “oomph” out of the sound and the feeling it was supposed to express. I tried “Egad”, which made me sound too much like Wile E. Coyote or Mr. Howell from Gilligan’s Island. Once or twice, I used the phrase, “Acckkk,” which was employed by heroine Cathy of comic strip fame. I did not care for that one either, so I resorted to my old stand-by, “Ugh.”

When my daughter got her first pair of boots in middle school, “Ugh” could no longer be employed as a word of frustration. It became an almost “Who’s on First” kind of scenario, where I would mutter, “Ugh” and my daughter would say, “Boots?” She would say it with a lilt on the end of the word, almost like, “Mom, can I have a new pair of?” When my wallet took its first hit, I replaced “ugh” with something that cannot be repeated here.

The first time that I heard the word “Gah” was when Leonard Hoffstadter uttered it on The Big Bang Theory. I believe that it was in response to the new Star Wars flick that was out and Leonard sent the text to his friends to let them know. I seem to recall his girlfriend’s response to the word “gah” was quite like my own at the time. I thought the word was rather weak and never thought it would catch on.

Fast forward to tonight when every column that I tried to bang out sounded either preachy or Pollyanna. Hence, “gah.”
I remember when I was younger and Mom would express her frustration with an angry, “Oh, SUGAR!” I tried that in grade school during gym class and was laughed out of the girl’s locker room. One of my classmates informed me of the real word that Mom had originally wanted to say but declined because “delicate ears were present.” I proudly offered this word to Mom that afternoon after school. Suffice it to say that I have since developed a peculiar taste for Ivory soap.

Another friend in grade school used a phrase that contained the words sugar, honey and iced tea. I decided to employ it later that week when I tore through a homework sheet with some overzealous erasing. Safeguard did not have the clean, powdery flavor of Ivory. I can still taste the nastiness.

When my daughter was growing up, she had a wonderful friend from her softball team who often expressed her frustration with a smile and a giggle. One never knew when Liz was angry because she was always grinning. Whenever Liz was upset, she would smile and yell, “CHEESE AND CRACKERS!” This managed to reduce the entire team to a pile of giggles and the mood quickly passed. I tried it a few times, and “cheese and crackers” always made me smile. However, it also made me want a plate full of Ritz biscuits and some creamy Vermont cheddar.

Before our daughter moved into her own apartment, she had drawn her interpretation of an album cover by the band, Brand New. She was frustrated by the proportions to which she had drawn the two demons in respect to the small child outside the house, which was The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me album’s cover art. As I removed a batch of towels from the dryer, I heard her mutter, “Oh, poop,” followed by a tiny giggle. I knew she had gotten over her mood after that because she somehow righted her wrong. The painting sits in my basement den, where it is displayed proudly. Gah!


Patty Servidio is an Anton Media Group columnist.

Leave a Reply