[Ads-l] "Brouhaha" (in English usage; antedating to 1819)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Apr 7 19:47:28 UTC 2021

Also eggcornized to “brewhaha”, whether because of an assumed connection with breweries or with trouble brewing.  And further inspection (whether or not seeded by our old friend Izzy Cohen) suggests that the etymology, while via French, is ultimately from the Old Testament Hebrew:

Some etymologists think the word is onomatopoeic in origin, but others believe it comes from the Hebrew phrase bārŪkh habbā’, meaning "blessed be he who enters" (Psalms 118:26)'

Or so avers M-W’s WOTD at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/brouhaha#learn-more

I tend to share the skepticism Quinion expresses at the site below; he mentions the speculation about Hebrew but not the Psalmist.    


> On Apr 7, 2021, at 1:52 PM, Bonnie Taylor-Blake <b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> "Brouhaha" is of French origin and, according to the OED, dates to the 15th
> century. (Lots of speculation about where the French got it. See, e.g.,
> Michael Quinion's analysis: https://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-bro1.htm)
> Figuring that "brouhaha" in English usage was pretty old, I was surprised
> to see that the OED has its first example Oliver Wendell Holmes's "I enjoy
> the brouhaha..of all this quarrelsome menagerie of noise-making machines"
> (1890). BTW, Holmes's "brouhaha," in an 1891 edition of _Over the Teacups_,
> appears in italics.
> Here are some earlier appearances in English texts. Please note that I've
> omitted texts that are clearly (or likely) just translations from French
> into English, with "brouhaha" as an untranslatable word. I've also found
> early examples of "brouhaha" in American French-language newspapers
> and, well, French newspapers and journals and books, but these all appear
> within completely French texts.
> "Brouhaha" seems to have rarely appeared in (clearly) English-language
> texts before publication of _Over the Teacups_ (1890), but it's still
> possible to find it.
> -- Bonnie
> ----------------------------------
> (Asterisks indicate italicized text.)
> It is, nevertheless, horridly *ennuyant*, that to be able to cope with him,
> one must be incessantly toiling *aux galéres de bel esprit*: the
> *brouhaha*, too, that has constantly attended his speeches in the house,
> has increased his confidence in himself, and consequently heightened the
> difficulty of my task: [...] (In Mrs. Ross, _Hesitation; or To Marry, or
> Not to Marry?_ [Volume II], London: Strahan & Spottiswoode, for Longman,
> Hurse, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1819, pp. 22-23.)
> Which *point*, when made (consisting, as it generally does, in some
> execrable outrage on the modesty of nature) the performer must eke out and
> prolong -- must stand fixed, like a literal pointer, till back-rows, boxes
> and galleries have time to make out what is going on, and swell the
> insensate *brouhaha* bestowed to requite an artist's martyrdom. (From the
> "Theatrical Examiner" column, The Examiner [London], 7 October 1832, p.
> 647.)
> The air was a moving echo of dissonant sounds -- shrieks, laughter,
> bawling, conversations, the twanging of the guitar, the squalls of
> children, the tramps of horses, and rolling of carriages -- not a noise,
> even to the clink of spoons and glasses, that is possible for the human
> race to make, was wanting. It was a universal *bronhaha* [sic] in which all
> wore, however, an air of *fete*. (From "Naples," The Albion [New York, NY],
> 5 January 1833, p. 4.)
> The *brouhaha* of yesterday has produced very little effect at the Bourse.
> (From "From our own correspondent," "Paris, Nov. 24.," The Globe &
> Traveller [London], 26 November 1840, p. 3.)
> In the division of the school which had been previously riotous, the
> students were confirmed to their own department; but they contrived, by
> burning a hole with a red-hot iron through a wooden partition, to give
> circulars to agents, who distributed them throughout the school, and these
> circulars having announced the determination of the rioters and called upon
> all their fellow-students to obey -- the intended riot having been voted by
> a majority in council -- all the lamps were extinguished at the same
> moment, and a *brouhaha* was set up which really terrified the officers.
> (From "Paris, March 19.," "From a correspondent," The Globe & Traveller
> [London] 21 March 1842, p. 2.)
> However, in spite of the *brouhaha* of these half-educated, smoke-dried
> students (of drinking, fighting, waltzing, and gambling), the arrival of
> the royal party created the usual manifestation of hand-enthusiasm ...
> (From J.W.D., "Letters on the Bonn Festival," The Musical World [London],
> 25 September 1845, p. 458.)
> When the accumulation of prepared production, already in the market, so far
> exceeds all hoped for demand, that works from thirty years ago would have
> ensured immediate fortune and immortal fame to their contrivers, are flung
> aside by listless repletion, from the entire impossibility to what is
> eminently a reading age, of any examination of their claims, or separate of
> their small voiced appeal from the multitudinous *brouhaha* of more
> clamorous suitors. (From H.C.M., "To Our Readers," The Connoisseur
> [London], 1 January 1846, p. 1.)
> Out of all this complicated *brouhaha* it is hard to see our way, but the
> great thing for this country is not to see our way into it. (The Morning
> Post [London], 15 June 1866, column 5, p. 4.)
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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