Printable Version
Pronunciation: bru-hah-hah Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Commotion, uproar, rumpus, racket, clamor, tumult. 2. Hubbub, hullabaloo, confused excited contention.

Notes: This word is so odd and isolated that it has no lexical relatives other than plural brouhahas. Do make sure you place the accent on the first syllable and not the second, where it would more naturally fall in English. Also be sure to include the O since this word is often misspelled bruhaha. It might help to remember that even though beer may lead to a brouhaha, the spelling brewhaha should also be avoided except in jest.

In Play: Brouhahas are closely associated with sporting events in the US: "No one was laughing after the brouhaha that erupted when the umpire called Wiley Slider out at home plate." Any excited contentious situation may be characterized as a brouhaha: "Yes, there was quite a family brouhaha when Sue Barew came home with the nose tattoo and a lip ring."

Word History: This funny word comes from 16th century French brouhaha, taken from a chant by a priest disguised as the devil in a late 15th century French farce: "Brou brou brou ha ha, brou ha ha!" It is possible that the playwright simply made up sounds imitating confused speech. But it is also very possible that it comes from the Hebrew phrase barukh habba "blessed be he who enters," frequently heard in Jewish ceremonies and suspiciously similar to barruccaba "hubbub" in Italian dialects. When most school children studied Latin and Greek, Hebrew to them was the equivalent of Greek in the English idiom "it's all Greek to me". The derivation would then parallel that of English patter "speak rapidly", which came from Latin pater noster "our Father".

Dr. Goodword,

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