|Jimmy Finlayson,left, with America's exemplar of fatherhood|
Thanks to the majesty of Homer Simpson, the interjection doh has become a phenomenon--even a cause célèbre. It is the cat's pajamas among interjections, which remain the poorest of poor relations among the parts of speech. Two weeks ago, with leverage from the web site Laughing Squid, a Simpsons enthusiast launched an amusing, annoying YouTube compilation of nearly every Homeric doh that aired during the first 20 years of The Simpsons. The post, which went viral within a week, currently has 617,000+ hits.
It is common knowledge that Homer was understudy to the Scottish comic actor Jimmy Finlayson, an often cartoony foil in Laurel & Hardy classics. For your convenience, Wig & Pen offers a snippet of Homer's staccato dohs chased by Finlayson's more elastic, keening doh. The latter comes from the immortal soda scene in Laurel & Hardy's 1929 two-reeler, Men O' War. These examples aim to right a tragedy in comedy: Homer and Finlayson have rarely been heard in tandem.
Doh made it into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2001. Here's hoping that Homer's gift to the Queen's English will elevate the Simpson name to a better station in the UK. That remains a tall order in the 75-year wake of Wallis Simpson's seduction in 1930s of the Brit who would not be king.
From the OED:
Forms: 19– d'oh, 19– doh, 19– dooh. (Show Less)Etymology: Imitative. Compare oh int., duh int.Popularized by the American actor Dan Castellaneta who provides the voice for the character Homer Simpson in the U.S. cartoon series The Simpsons. The quotation below is his own description of its origin:
Although the word appears (in the form D'oh ) in numerous publications based on The Simpsons, the scripts themselves simply specify annoyed grunt (as did the very earliest). Unofficial transcripts of the programme suggest the first spoken use was in a short episode, Punching Bag, broadcast on 27 Nov. 1988 as part of The Tracey Ullman Show. Its earliest occurrence in the full-length series was in the first episode Simpsons roasting on an Open Fire, broadcast on 17 Dec. 1989.... (Show More)1998 Daily Variety (Nexis) 28 Apr., The D'oh came from character actor James Finlayson's “Do-o-o-o” in Laurel & Hardy pictures. You can tell it was intended as a euphemism for “Damn”. I just speeded it up.colloq.
Expressing frustration at the realization that things have turned out badly or not as planned, or that one has just said or done something foolish. Also (usu. mildly derogatory): implying that another person has said or done something foolish (cf. duh int.).
Coda: The Laurel & Hardy Soda Scene: