Is there any more appropriate exclamation to sum up 2020 than this three-letter word?

Oof. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as a word “used to express discomfort, surprise, or dismay”. The Oxford dictionary’s Lexico.com concurs, defining it as an expression of “discomfort, as from sudden exertion or a blow to one’s body”. Not to be outdone, Wiktionary.org expands on the gut-punch metaphor: “A sound mimicking the loss of air, as if someone’s solar plexus had just been struck.” For the somewhat apathetic, the Urban Dictionary’s contributors submit: “When you don’t really care but should say at least something.

“You: ‘I think I’m having a heart attack.’

Me: ‘Oof.'”

Linguaholic.com’s linguablog even offers oof up as a concise way to troll when pressed for time: “Occasionally, some people log onto the internet just to say the word ‘oof’ and then log off. It can be that simple. So, don’t be afraid to log onto YouTube, find one of your favourite videos, comment ‘oof,’ and then vanish into the night.”

Oof!

However, don’t relegate the exclamation to ineloquent corners of the web just yet, as the seemingly insignificant word has already made its way on the walls of museums and the painting…



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