Word Confusion: Poo versus Pooh

Posted March 30, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Oh, sigh… Another word confusion that shows me up as wrong. I do hate that. To be fair [to me, of course], I suspect most well-read people would assume, upon seeing the word poo used in a sentence, that excrement was being mentioned. In context, though, I guess I would define pooh as poo, but I would also think the writer was misspelling it. I know. It’s a prejudice on my part. I think it’s all those historical novels I read at an impressionable age. I grew up thinking that pooh! was an exclamation of disdain. Now I can’t help but think poo and pooh are two separate words.

It’s up to you which word you choose to use. Consider your target reading audience; which word are they most likely to associate with the impression you want them to have? And when you choose, remember the cardinal rule of writing — be CONSISTENT!

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.

Poo Pooh
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com

Deer poop

Image by Rosendahl [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The hunters will recognize the deer poo.

Winnie the Pooh

Image by Jameziecakes [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Winnie the Pooh at the Disney Street parade

Part of Grammar:
Noun; Suffix; Verb, intransitive & transitive

Alternate informal spelling: pooh

Past tense or past participle: pooed
Gerund or Present participle: pooing

Exclamation; ; Verb, intransitive & transitive

Alternate informal spelling: poo

Past tense or past participle: poohed
Gerund or Present participle: poohing

Expression of displeasure or failure

[Informal; baby-talk] Excrement

Faecal matter

[Singular] An act of defecating

Diminutive, often derogatory (frequently added to adjectives and nouns, especially those ending in -y or -ie)

Dog + poodle mix

Verb, intransitive:
To defecate

Verb, transitive:
To defecate in (one’s pants or bed)

Used to express disgust at an unpleasant smell

  • Used to express impatience or contempt 1

An exclamation of “pooh”

[Slang; uncountable] Champagne

Verb, intransitive:
To defecate

Verb, transitive:
[Slang] Poop

Ooh, that’s icky poo!

Ick! It’s poo!

C’mon, honey, do a poo for mommy.

Have another glass of ‘poo, darling.

Who’s a little cutesy-poo!

Oh, that’s just icky-poo.

I love Yorkie-poos.

Verb, intransitive:
Who pooed on the carpet!?

Verb, transitive:
She has to be changed. She pooed in her diaper.

Oh pooh! Don’t be such a spoilsport.

Oh, mama, look! It’s Winnie the Pooh!

Verb, intransitive:
She pooh-poohed my suggestion.

Verb, transitive:
The dog poohed in the living room again.

History of the Word:
First used in the 1950s 1 First known use: 1595-1605

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