Some words are so weird, wacky, and wonderful that they don’t seem to fit into any language.
A noun with distinctly negative connotations, brouhaha refers to an overexcited commotion. It is synonymous with words like “hubbub” and “hullaballoo” (other super goofy words that seriously need to be added to my daily lexicon).
Have you ever been unpleasantly confused in the face of a loud, perhaps even irrational, response? If the answer is yes, then you, too, have been afflicted with the disease that is brouhaha.
If it sounds like I’m painting the word in too harsh a light, read this: one accepted source of “brouhaha” comes from sixteenth century French drama, in which it was used as the devil’s signature catchphrase. “Brou, ha, ha!”
But not all etymologists agree that this is how the word originated. In fact, a certain sect of etymologists doesn’t see the word as French in origin at all. Rather, they believe it to be a derivation of the Hebrew barukh habba, meaning “welcome” or, literally, “blessed be the one who comes.”
Additionally, there is a similar word originating from Hebrew, which the dictionary insists is used in North America but I personally have never heard, seen, or read it: tohubohu, meaning a state of chaos or utter confusion. The Hebrew word it comes from means “emptiness and desolation,” which is a bit closer than barukh habba to brouhaha, in regards to connotation.
Looks like we might have another case of won’t-actually-know-until-someone-invents-a-working-time-machine on our hands. Until then, “brouhaha” needs no further explanation.
Student. Writer. Everything-o-phile.