bah humbug

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Ebenezer Scrooge encountering the ghost of Jacob Marley, an illustration by John Leech from the first edition of Charles DickensA Christmas Carol (1843)

bah (interjection expressing contempt, disgust, or bad temper) + humbug (balderdash!, nonsense!, rubbish!). The words were originally spoken by the miser Ebenezer Scrooge in the novella A Christmas Carol (1843) by English author Charles Dickens (1812–1870).[1]



bah humbug

  1. (humorous) Expressing cynicism, disillusionment or distrustfulness; and specifically a dislike of Christmas and its celebrations and festivities.
    • 1848 January 22, “Important Official Documents”, in The John-Donkey, volume I, number IV, New York, N.Y.: Published and supplied by George Dexter, Burgess, Stringer & Co., W. H. Graham, R. G. Berford & Co. [et al.], OCLC 7485355, page 126, column 2:
      Honor!—bah! humbug! Patriotism!—pshaw! / Are we to be bamboozled by such guys?
    • 1976, Susan George, “Food Aid? … Or Weapon?”, in How the Other Half Dies: The Real Reasons for World Hunger, Harmondsworth, London; New York, N.Y.: Penguin Books, →ISBN; reprinted Totowa, N.J.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1989, →ISBN, page 164:
      Only a modern Scrooge could say, "Bah, Humbug," where helping people to get enough to eat is concerned. Well, we are not going to argue that food aid has never filled an empty stomach or saved a dying child—but we will contend, in the case of the United States at least, that it has done so only inadvertently.
    • 2012, C. Matthew McMahon; Therese B. McMahon, “Scrooge Had It Right, but for the Wrong Reasons”, in Bah Humbug: How Christians Should Think about the Christmas Holiday, Coconut Creek, Fla.: Puritan Publications, →ISBN, pages 5–6:
      [O]nce you understand why Bah Humbug is a good term, you will see that it is going to become packed with a biblical position that could warrant every Christian to mindfully say "Bah Humbug" about the Christmas Holiday, and know what it is they are meaning. Bah Humbug is going to work succinctly.


  1. ^ Charles Dickens (19 December 1843), “Stave I. Marley’s Ghost.”, in A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, London: Chapman & Hall, 186, Strand, OCLC 55746801, pages 6–7:
    "A Merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!" cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge’s nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach. / "Bah!" said Scrooge, "Humbug!" / [] "Christmas a humbug, uncle!" said Scrooge's nephew. "You don't mean that, I am sure." / "I do," said Scrooge. "Merry Christmas! what right have you to be merry? what reason have you to be merry? You're poor enough." / "Come, then," returned the nephew gaily. "What right have you to be dismal? what reason have you to be morose? You're rich enough." / Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, said, "Bah!" again; and followed it up with "Humbug."