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The online Oxford Dictionary defines 'phew' as an expression of a strong reaction of relief. It has reported this example: "Phew, what a year!"

Could phew express lassitude as follows?

Phew! That was hard work.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

To quote a bigger list of emotions phew could be used for: (from Chambers)

An exclamation of relief, astonishment, petty vexation, unexpected difficulty, impatience, contempt, etc

Lassitude stands for lethargy or a lack of energy. Forget about the phew, I do not think any lethargic person would complete a lot of work and end up saying "That was hard work." Perhaps you mean he has a lot of toil ahead of him and he is overwhelmed by its magnitude. Then he is correct to say, "Phew! That is a lot of work."

Phew, that has been a lot of typing!

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Yes, I mean when he is overwhelmed. You are right. – Elberich Schneider Apr 23 '12 at 13:25
I disagree. I don't think phew expresses lassitude. It's simply that it is often paired with phrases worthy of being "relieved." It doesn't necessarily imply you're fatigued. – Neil Apr 23 '12 at 13:51
I never said that. I just said a lethargic person may use phew under the given circumstance. As you say, Phew does not express lassitude, to put in the words of the OP. – Bravo Apr 23 '12 at 13:55
@Shyam you should stress the is to contrast from OP's was, which gives an entirely different meaning to the sentence. – Kris Apr 23 '12 at 14:16
@Kris: Done!... – Bravo Apr 23 '12 at 14:51

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