Is shh a word?

  • If it is, why is it a word?
  • If it is not, why isn't it a word?
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    This article at ODO claims that candidates such as sh, brrr, hmm should be labelled 'words'. But I can't agree with them that words such has cwm and crwth have no vowel; they have the rare vowel usage of w (from the Welsh). / Wordness depends on acceptance into the lexicon, which is itself dependent on frequency of use (and how often dictionary usage panels sit). These are all well used; absence of a vowel is not usually considered a factor in deciding wordness. Mar 5, 2017 at 17:41
  • Those can be said as words by looking over the growth of usage of those words.
    – Sikku
    Mar 5, 2017 at 17:53
  • I’m afraid you’re going to have to tell us what you mean by “classified as a word”. What’s a word? Whose definition? Who’s doing the classifying here, and what is there purpose for doing so? One thing I’m sure it’s not is a ham sandwich. I’m sure it isn’t a ham sandwich, which probably means it’s a word instead.
    – tchrist
    Mar 5, 2017 at 19:44

1 Answer 1


Shh is a word. According to Merriam-Webster, a word is:

a speech sound or series of speech sounds that symbolizes and communicates a meaning usually without being divisible into smaller units capable of independent use.

M-W further says:

any segment of written or printed discourse ordinarily appearing between spaces or between a space and a punctuation mark

Shh satisfies both definitions of a word. If I tell you "shh" you know what I mean (first definition). As for the second definition:

Jane, shh!

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    The second definition uses "any", so shh clearly fits. The first uses "a" rather than "any", which at least implies that some examples might not be a word. That aside, I spot checked a bunch of dictionary definitions and all of them treat it like a word.
    – fixer1234
    Mar 6, 2017 at 1:25

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