Though I know the meaning of each word except 'duh', I have failed to realize the meaning of the following sentence.

Why do researchers get so many grants to do stuff that's like, well, duh?

Would anybody like to explain the meaning of above sentence?

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    It is not a duplicate of "like"! – mplungjan Mar 10 '15 at 14:08
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    "duh" is not Valley girl speak - it became popular in the late 70s, long before Valley Girls became recognized. – user98990 Mar 10 '15 at 14:11
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    Nothing about that question or its answers would tell the OP how "duh" is used in the given sentence. – Nicole Mar 10 '15 at 14:12
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    "I know the meaning of each word except duh". – Andrew Leach Mar 10 '15 at 14:57
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    And, @FumbleFingers, how do you mean that? :-) – user98990 Mar 10 '15 at 15:21

One definition of "duh" is "a disdainful indication that something is obvious" (Wiktionary).

So that sentence says that many researchers get grants to research things that are so obvious that they don't really need researching. For example, if a researcher received a grant to conduct a study on whether or not most dogs like to play fetch, the result is so obvious that it isn't really worth researching.


2 —used derisively to indicate that something just stated is all too obvious or self-eviden Merriam-Webster

So the sentence could be re-written:

Why do researchers get so many grants to investigate painfully obvious things?

I found it used in exactly that way:

'Duh' science: Why researchers spend so much time proving the obvious LA Times
Alcohol increases reaction time; obese men have lower odds of getting married. A waste of research money? Not necessarily, scientists say.

  • "duh" is rarely used to express anger. Most often it is used to express sarcastic denigration, sometimes outright annoyance. – user98990 Mar 10 '15 at 14:40
  • That was the quote in the dictionary. I agree about angry – mplungjan Mar 10 '15 at 14:41
  • So, see what I mean about dictionaries - most of the time correct, but not infallible. – user98990 Mar 10 '15 at 14:57
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    Thank you, I dropped out rather than suffer the continuing indignities of being downvoted. I actually think THE answer is unavailable because of a lack of context and vocal intonation. It's possible that we are both, simultaneously, correct. I'll upvote you now. Won't let me upvote unless you add some small edit, can you do that? ; – user98990 Mar 10 '15 at 20:45
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    My pleasure, mplungjan, I apologize for my contentiousness. – user98990 Mar 12 '15 at 13:31

The punctuation of this phrase is not correct. It is better written as:

Why do researchers get so many grants to do stuff that's like, "Well, duh?"

The implication of this sentence is that if two people were to have a conversation about the stuff, it would be something along these lines:

Person 1: Did you know that the sky is blue?
Person 2: Well, duh.

With this understanding of the subtext, a rephrasing becomes more obvious:

Why do researches get so many grants to answer common sense questions?

  • 1
    Why would it be necessary to change the punctuation? It reads perfectly well with the punctuation it has. – mplungjan Mar 10 '15 at 14:05
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    This is wrong. Only one person, not two, is expressing their thought about research grants for "stupid" subject matter, in this OP. – user98990 Mar 10 '15 at 14:06
  • Yes, only one person is expressing their opinion, but they are expressing it by using an imaginary conversation between two people. – Ian MacDonald Mar 10 '15 at 14:12
  • No they are not. Sorry. – user98990 Mar 10 '15 at 14:24
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    That’s one way of reading it, but it’s by no means the only way of reading it. The most obvious reading (i.e., one that requires no change in punctuation) is that duh is being used as a kind of pseudo-adjective here. Substitute obvious and it becomes clear that no punctuation is needed: “Why do researchers get so many grants to do stuff that’s like, well, obvious?”. Both like and well are filler words here: like indicating a lack of precision, well a certain level of bluntness in the following conclusion. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 10 '15 at 14:24

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