woe is » woeth

Chiefly in:   woeth me

Classification: English – idiom-related

Spotted in the wild:

  • “The 40-minute documentary is not a woeth-me, self-righteous trip of blame and disgust at men, but a well-crafted and humorous tale of action and reaction to the Yale women’s stance on equality and those affected beyond 1976.” (link)
  • “I dont know. Im not sure about anything these days. Oh woeth me.” (link)
  • “I feel as though you have bared my soul to the world. I am currently attempting to slit my wrists, but alas the effect I desired cannot be obtained with a ruler. OH WOETH ME!!!!” (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Tommy Grano (e-mail of 4 August 2005)

Grano first came across the wonderful “woeth me” in a transcription of speech in a large corpus he was working with. Then he found some web occurrences and suggested that “because people recognize “woe is me” as sounding archaic, it would make sense for them that “woe” could be a verb, and take an archaic verb inflection.”

[CW, 2005-08-23: See also _Whoa is me!_]

| link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/08/05 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by Ben Zimmer , 2005/08/05 at 2:24 am

    See whence » whenst for another example of an archaicism made more archaic-sounding.

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