The Power Of Oh

A friend posed this question on Facebook the other day, “What do you say out loud (or in your head) the most during the day?” Answers ranged from “WTF?” to “Where’d I put my . . . ?” My answer was “Oh.” It’s the truth. I think or say “oh” a lot during the day. The more I thought about it, I decided that it’s a pretty profound word.

“Oh, my bed is so cozy. Oh crap, I have to pee.” My first waking thought is “oh”.

“Oh” is a recognition word. “Oh, I get it.” I bought a new sewing machine in November and I’m still learning about it. “Oh” has always been a sewing room word. “Oh, dammit, the zebras are all upside down!” (This was as I sewed a bathrobe on fabric I purchased several years ago, irreplaceable fabric, huge mistake—except the robe is as cozy as I imagined, and the zebras don’t seem to care. “Oh well.”) “Oh, look how pretty these fabrics look together!” “Oh, she’s going to love this!” “Oh, why did I start this project?” I’m also trying to learn the mysteries of entrelac knitting. I follow patterns, watch videos, knit along with knitters who work so much faster than I do, and all the while, my mouth forms a silent “Oh” as I start to get the idea.

“Oh” is the all-purpose answer to nearly any answer to any question. Think about it:

“Have you seen my socks?”

“They’re in the refrigerator.”

“Oh.” Is there a better answer that doesn’t involve asking another question? Do you really want to ask that question that hovers on the tip of your tongue? Or would you be better off just silently retracing your steps for the answer. You grabbed socks from your drawer after you dressed, you went to the kitchen to prepare breakfast, placed the socks on a shelf while you pulled two eggs out of the carton . . . and shut the door. “Oh.”

“Oh” ends the discussion in its tracks . . . if, indeed, ending is what you wish to do (if Facebook and Twitter posts are any indicator, a lot of people don’t want an argument to end—ever).

“I just contacted the overlords over the intergalactic synctranian system and they are planning the Salusian invasion to coincide with your party on the 5th, so I definitely would reschedule, if I were you.”


In my life, “oh” is an expression of joy, awe, fear, boredom, confusion, delight, and understanding. It’s like a Chinese word that means ten things, depending on the tone of voice when it is spoken. It’s my all-purpose-go-to word when all other words fail me. Words have been failing me for a while now, and I’m trying to get them to work again.

I’ll start with “Oh” and see where that takes me.