[Ads-l] no duh (1979)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sat Mar 27 16:24:03 UTC 2021

Here's "no duh" from 1978...

Kansas City (Mo.) Times, Oct. 2, 1978, p. 9C, col. 2
The Hopkins (Mo.) Journal groaned: "We have recently picked up a new
expression. Although most slang originates in one place, grows popular and
spreads to other areas, this term seems to be confined (we hope) to the
fifth-grade class at Horace Mann School in Maryville. In other words, the
kid brother says it, and so do his friends. The phrase is 'No, duh!' with
the emphasis on the 'duh.' From what we gather, it means something akin to
'No kidding?' and 'For sure' and 'You bet.' Sort of. It has so many uses
that it has literally cut the kids' vocabulary in half. You ask, 'Mike,
does Grandma make good pancakes?' and he answers with a big grin, 'No,
duh!' Or you say, 'Hear you lost your ball game, Mike,' and he answers
smart-alecky, 'No, duh!' What a time saver -- we guess. No, duh!"

In another thread, JL wrote: "If there's a documented nine-year gap between
'first' appearances of 'no, duh!'..." No such gap -- here are some
interdatings between '79 and '88.

Cincinnati Enquirer, Aug. 10, 1982, p. D1, col. 1
"Mom's Summer Studies" by Donna Vonderhaar
By far the most popular way of offering a negative opinion is found in the
word "duh." Just "duh," but stretched out to at least two syllables. For
instance, if a mother were to ask her son if he would like her to buy him a
nice, warm hat with fur earflaps and a chin-strap, he is likely to utter
A derivation is, "No duh, mom," which is another way of saying, "no
kidding" and things far worse. Both usages carry a strong sense of scorn
without the sense of sass that results in mouths getting washed out with
Centenary Conglomerate (Centenary College of Louisiana), May 9, 1985, p. 7,
col. 3
Congrats Betsy Camp for being accepted (finally, GA, no duh..) to Omicron
Delta Kappa - the national leadership Fraternity.
San Diego Union, Dec. 8, 1985, p. D1 [Proquest], column by Michael Grant
"Children," I said, "this is your bathroom!" "No duh" ("No kidding," in the
current patois), grumped my daughter.
Courier (College of DuPage), Mar. 13, 1987, Student Trends, p. 2, col. 2
When network executives came up with the idea of rerunning television
programs, the hope was to pump more dollars out of seemingly dead objects.
(Like, no duh, right?)
_The Neon Rain_ by James Lee Burke (1987), p. 91
"There's a guy comes in here every night and melts Demerol down in a glass
of Wild Turkey, then when I say 'Nice weather we're having' or 'Hard rain
we had this afternoon,' he says 'No duh.' I ask him if he wants another
drink and he says 'No duh.' 'You want some more peanuts?' 'No duh.' 'You're
in the wrong place to be a wise-ass.' 'No duh.'"

On Thu, Mar 25, 2021 at 8:10 PM Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:

> The sarcastic expression "no duh" has come up a few times on the list over
> the years. Back in 2006, John Baker found it in a 1988 Usenet post and a
> 1990 news article:
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2006-March/058008.html
> Here it is from 1979, in a glossary of teen slang:
> ---
> Daytona Beach (Fla.) Morning Journal, July 6, 1979, p. 9A, col. 1
> (GenealogyBank)
> "Teen Talk: Parents Required To Be Bilingual?" by Barbara Taylor
> No duh -- sarcastic retort meaning you've just said something dumb,
> something obvious to everyone else and there was no need for you to say it
> in the first place. Examples: "You're late." "No duh!" or "It's dark." "No
> duh!"
> ---

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

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