Word Confusion: Aaah v. Ah v. Aha v. Ahhh

Posted March 26, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 20 July 2017

Well, this is embarrassing… I’ve always done the ahhh version…

Who knew I didn’t know how to moan properly, ahem, in text anyway…*grin*…

The difference between aaah, ah, and aha is one of degree. Think of sinking into that delightfully warm and bubbly hot tub. Aaaah, that feels sooo good…and so warm. Then, of course, there is always the realization of ah, as in ah, so that’s how it’s done. The aha is more of a discovery, as in Aha! So that’s where my keys are!

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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Aaah Ah Aha Ahhh
Credit to: Merriam-Webster

Toes sticking out of the hot tub

“I Think This is Called Chillaxin” by John Biehler from Port Coquitlam, Canada is under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Aaaah, chillaxin’…

Sad emoticon

“Smile-Sad” is zeroos’ own work under the CC0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Both “aaah” and “ah” express feelings, but “ah” is not as heartfelt, as satisfying.

The logo for the American Heart Association

“Aha” is such a surprise!

Red slash for NO


Part of Grammar:
Exclamation Abbreviation 1; Exclamation 2 Abbreviation; Exclamation 3 Nope, see aaah
Mmmm… (degree)

An extended exclamation used to express a greater range of emotion
Huh, realization

In the year of the Hegira

Used in the Muslim calendar for reckoning years from Muhammad’s departure from Mecca in AD 622

Of the Muslim era

Used to express a range of emotions including surprise, pleasure, sympathy, and realization


Alpha-hydroxy acid 4

American Heart Association

Used to express derision, triumph, or surprise

Aaaah, hot water never felt so good.

Aaah, now I get it!

a Koran dated 556 AH

Ah, there you are!

Ah, this is the life.

I need some AHA to get rid of these wrinkles!

Aha! So that’s your secret plan!

Aha! I found your hiding place for chocolate!

History of the Word:
1 From the Latin anno Hegirae.

2 Middle English from Old French.

3 First known use: 14th century

Middle English from ah + ha.

4 First known use: 1991

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

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