"Phooey! Who needs 'em?"


A well-known Yiddish expression of contempt. It was popularized by Walter Winchell, who enjoyed sprinkling his radio show with fun and slangish expressions. He certainly didn't invent it, but he popularized it among the general American public, which is where it picked up its current spelling.

It originally comes to us from the German pfui, with the same meaning, and which has also entered the English language, keeping the German spelling. The German form actually entered the written language first, appearing in the late 1800s. Recently, the alternate spelling 'fooey' has become popular.

These days phooey is mostly used in a somewhat humorous or silly sense, as the younger generation picks up more obscene forms or derision. It is mostly associated with elderly men; but it is not too late for us to change this.


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