Phrase of the day: Bah humbug!

The phrase Bah, humbug! comes from the Charles Dickens’ story A Christmas Carol and is said by the main character Scrooge, who doesn’t like anything about Christmas. People can be called a scrooge when they don’t like spending money. You might say ‘Don’t be such a scrooge’ or ‘He’s a right scrooge’ (and let’s face it, these people usually are men!). These days, Bah humbug! is used more as a joke when you know you are basically complaining about things other people enjoy, or you are refusing to join in the fun. You might call someone like this a party pooper (if you are talking about parties) or more generally, you can say they’re a whinger or (my personal favourite, though some may think it’s bit rude) a miserable git.


Of course, there is a lot about Christmas that does bring out the miserable git in me and makes me proclaim Bah humbug!

Here are just a few of my pet hates at this time of year:

  • Christmas shopping! Hordes of people in the streets desperately searching for that perfect present, which recent research suggests most recipients won’t actually want anyway! Bah humbug!
  • People decorating their houses with thousands of lights and tacky Christmas tat. Think about the electricity bills! Think about global warming! Bah humbug!


  • Having to wear paper hats and other forced fun at Christmas parties. Bah, humbug!
  • Endless terrible Christmas music played 24-7. Everywhere. Bah, humbug!
  • Turkey. An over-sized, bland variation on the theme of chicken that you end up having to keep eating until the New Year in order to finish it off! Bah, humbug!
  • Mulled wine. There is a reason no-one drinks this stuff at any other time of the year. Personally, I think one glass is enough for a lifetime. Bah humbug!


I  don’t think that the message of A Christmas Carol was that at Christmas we should all embrace rampant consumerism and stuff ourselves stupid all holiday, so I wouldn’t say I am a complete scrooge here. I do actually like some things about Christmas, but I shall leave that to our next post: Christmas Cheer.

Want to learn more about British language and culture? We have just the course for you.

  • Do you have any pet hates about Christmas or things that might make you go Bah humbug!?
  • Do you know anyone who’s a bit of a scrooge when it comes to money?
  • Do you share any of the pet hates mentioned above? Why? / Why not?
  • What do you usually eat during your main festive days of the year? Do you like it?
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