0

Can I interpret that "oops" is for when you yourself make a mistake and "oof" is for when someone else has a slip up? Do they share same origin? They seem awfully symmetric.

  • There is also "oofta" – Cascabel Sep 24 at 21:01
  • 2
    You can't really interpret exclamations definitively. Of all language, they're the most context-dependent. In a vacuum, with a gun to my head, I'd say "oops" is more conscious - an outright admission of error (but definitely not always; sometimes unconcious, sometimes "transitive", in that you're saying it for someone else, sometimes sarcastically). Whereas "off" is more unconscious, an autonomic reaction, usually to a physical stimulus, like being hit in the stomach, or dropping a brick on your foot (other times, empathetically, for someone else, sometimes of that, metaphorically)... – Dan Bron Sep 24 at 21:15
  • 3
    "Oof" is what you say when someone punches you in the stomach. Literally or figuratively. – Hot Licks Sep 24 at 21:50
  • Is there a connotation of "joking" in using oof. For example, is it appropriate to say "oof" when someone had a car crash and is in hospital, when they themselves caused the accident by making a mistake in driving? – Daniel Li Sep 24 at 22:42
  • 1
    Have you looked the words up in a dictionary? If not, please do so, and then (if still necessary) please explain why you still don't understand the difference. Please see our the section on "Where can I find answers to simple and basic questions?" at english.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic. – TrevorD Sep 24 at 23:12
2

The Free Dictionary defines oops as:

Used to express acknowledgment of a minor accident, blunder, or mistake.

For example:

Oops! I forgot my library card at home.


Merriam Webster defines oof as:

used to express discomfort, surprise, or dismay

For example:

Oof! She just dislocated her shoulder, is there a doctor?

2

"Oops" always indicates an error (literal) slip, or clumsiness.

"Oof" does sometimes share this meaning, but it's onomatopoeia for the sudden expulsion of air when punched in the stomach. It's more an expression of unpleasant surprise than error. Wiktionary has this use first, and M-W doesn't quite define it that way but the example does the definition I give. Many other dictionaries only seem to have it as a slang term for money

  • Is there a connotation of "joking" in using oof. For example, is it appropriate to say "oof" when someone had a car crash and is in hospital, when they themselves caused the accident by making a mistake when driving? – Daniel Li Sep 24 at 22:42
  • @DanielLi, I'm not sure I'd say "oof" then, but I wouldn't think it joking or mocking if someone else did. – Chris H Sep 25 at 5:57
1

Based on both your question and your repeated comments on the various answers already present, it seems like you're wondering about the trend of young people today using the word "oof" in very casual online conversation. (Though I've heard it used verbally as well.) From what I can gather, it's a very informal word, used jokingly/sarcastically. It seems that's the general consensus from Urban Dictionary as well:

oof

when you don't really care but should say atleast something

As a native English speaker, I have not seen or heard the word "oof" used anywhere in any professional setting.

0

"Oof" as a reaction tends to be reserved for mistakes which carry some significant consequence for the person making the mistake - someone embarrassing themselves socially or accidentally injuring themselves. "Oops" tends to lack this connotation of pain or distress, and so tends to be used more broadly, say for a minor misstep or gaffe.

  • Is there a connotation of "joking" in using oof. For example, is it appropriate to say "oof" when someone had a car crash and is in hospital, when they themselves caused the accident by making a mistake when driving? – Daniel Li Sep 24 at 22:42
  • Yes, "oof" is a very informal response, so typically isn't used in situations where someone is gravely injured. – Jawi Sep 25 at 13:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.