Word Confusion: O vs O’ vs Oh vs Ooh

Posted May 11, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Oh, noooo…as Mr. Bill would say. It’s an escalating series of Os that writers do get wrong. There’s the vocative (always capitalized) O most frequently seen in Christmas carols, prayers, and poetry. It’s followed by the colloquial o’ that’s so handy in dialect dialogues, then the oh-so-standard oh, so beloved and well-used, and finally the ooh of surprise and jollity.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

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O O’ Oh Ooh
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Your Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: o, o’, oh
Robert Frost quote laid over a rolling landscape of hills in France

A quotation from Robert Frost: “Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee, and I’ll forgive Thy great big joke on me.”


Newspaper ad for a 1921 movie about Mounties

“O’Malley of the Mounted” by William S. Hart Productions / Paramount Pictures from the St. Louis Argus, Apr. 15, 1921, is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Mr. Bill figure saying oh no

“Mr. Bill” courtesy of Gohrlay’s Brain at Wikifiction

“Oh, nooooo…” says Mr. Bill.


45 rpm record

“Ooh! Look-a-There, Ain’t She Pretty” by Waylon is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A 45-rpm record of “Ooh! Look-a-There, Ain’t She Pretty” by Bill Haley and his Comets, Decca 1959.

Part of Grammar:
Abbreviation;
Exclamation 1;
Noun
Plural: Os, O’s, os, oes;
Prefix 2;
Suffix 3
Prefix 4;
Preposition
Abbreviation 5;
Exclamation 6;
Noun 1, 7
Verb, intransitive

Plural for the Noun: ohs, oh’s
Third person present verb: ohs
Past tense or past participle: ohed
Gerund or present participle: ohing

Exclamation;
Noun
Plural: oohs;
Verb, intransitive

Third person: oohs
Past tense or past participle: oohed
Gerund or Present participle: oohing

Abbreviation:
[From Latin octarius, in prescriptions] A pint

[Baseball] Out, outs

Exclamation:
Archaic spelling of oh


A.k.a., Vocative O, ALWAYS capitalized in English


Natural exclamation

[Archaic] Used before a name in direct address, as in prayers and poetry

Noun:
Fifteenth letter of the alphabet

  • A human blood type (in the ABO system) lacking both the A and B antigens

[Also oh] Zero (in a sequence of numerals, especially when spoken)

A shape like that of a capital O

A circle

Prefix:
[Chemistry] Used in combination

Suffix:
Informal slang variants or derivatives 2

Used as the terminal vowel of combining forms

Prefix:
Found in Irish patronymic names, it originally denoted the bearer as the son of

Preposition:
Short for of or on and used to represent an informal pronunciation

Abbreviation:

Exclamation:
Used to express a range of emotions including joy, surprise, anger, disappointment, or when reacting to something that has just been said

Used in direct address to attract the attention of the person spoken to

Used to express acknowledgment or understanding of a statement

Used to introduce an example or approximation

Interrogative:
Expression of mild skepticism

Noun:
variant spelling of the O noun 1

[Informal; used in electronic communication] A person’s wife, husband, or partner

Verb, intransitive:
To utter or exclaim oh.

Exclamation:
Used to express a range of emotions including surprise, delight, or pain

Noun:
an utterance of ooh

Verb, intransitive:
Utter such an exclamation

Examples:
Abbreviation:
Ocean
octavo
October
Ohio
old
Ontario
Oregon
off
only
order
The opposing team had two outs already, and it wasn’t looking good with this batter coming up.

Exclamation:
“O Holy Night”

Give peace in our time, O Lord.

Noun:
A person with blood type O is a potential universal donor.

Count it down with me: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, o.

It’s o-shaped.

Prefix:
ortho-
o-xylene

Suffix:
righto
wino
chemico-
Gallo

Prefix:
O’Neill
O’Boyle
O’Leary

Preposition:
I could do with a cup o’ tea.

Top o’ the mornin’ to ya.

Walk ahead o’ me.

It’s four o’clock already!?

Dinna follow the will-o’-the-wisp lest he lead ye astray.

Abbreviation:
OH is the official U.S. Postal Service abbreviation for the state of Ohio.

Off hand

[Real estate] Open house

[Chemical] hydroxl

Exclamation:
“Oh no,” said Daisy, appalled.

Me? Oh, I’m fine.

Oh, shut up.

Oh, yeah?

Oh boy, now what are we gonna do?

Oh, John, will you take these books?

Oh, I see. You can’t come until tomorrow.

Interrogative:
“You left the keys in the door again!” “Oh?”

Noun:
Count it down with me: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, oh.

It’s oh-shaped.

I often go to gigs on my own as my OH doesn’t have the same musical tastes as me.

Verb, intransitive:
There was a lot of ohing and ahing when the crowd came through into the Designer Showcase house.

Exclamation:
Ooh, this is fun.

Ooh, my feet!

Noun:
It’s the same every Fourth of July as the excited viewers ooh and aah about the fireworks.

Verb, intransitive:
The inn’s visitors oohed and aahed at the Christmas tree.

History of the Word:
1 Natural exclamation first recorded in Middle English

2 Perhaps from the exclamation, oh, reinforced by abbreviated forms such as hippo, photo.

3 From the Greek.

4 Mid-18th century from the Irish ó, ua meaning descendant. 5 On July 1, 1963, the Post Office Department implemented the five-digit ZIP Code, which was placed after the state name in the last line of an address. To provide room for the ZIP Code, the Department issued two-letter abbreviations for all states and territories. For more information, read Publication 59, Abbreviations for Use with ZIP Code (US Postal Service).

6 Mid-16th century and a variant of 1.

7 1990s, an abbreviation of other half.

Natural exclamation first recorded in English in the early 20th century.

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C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

Pinterest Photo Credits

Mr. Bill Image #4 courtesy of the Mr. Bill Gallery at Idolosol.com.


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