10 April 2017

Ouch

Ouch!  You probably have used this word to express sudden pain. It may be an involuntary response but studies suggest that this kind of vocalization helps distract you from the pain.

Ouch is an interjection, a word that shows a sudden outburst of emotion or excitement. You usually find them at the start of a sentence, or all alone with an exclamation mark. Wow!

"Ouch" is not universal. Other languages use other interjections. Do you know one? Post it in a comment below.

"Ouch" is an Americanism that comes from Middle English ouche (noun), from nouche , Old French nosche and German autsch.

I couldn't pin down its first known use in English, but it is at least earlier than the 20th century.

It is interesting that researchers found that saying “ow” (a more modern interjection interchangeable with "ouch") during the experiment increased the subjects’ tolerance for pain. But hearing a recording of their own voice or someone else’s voice saying “ow” did not help at all. An earlier study found that swearing is also an effective way to increase pain tolerance.

Though I had never encountered other usages, I found that OUCH can mean as a noun a clasp, buckle, or brooch, especially one worn for ornament, or the setting of a precious stone, and as a verb (used with object) meaning to adorn with or as if with ouches.

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