Sunday, August 19, 2012


tohu-bohu [ˈtoʊhuˈboʊhu] n. also tohu and bohu, tohu-vavohu, tohu-vabohu, and tohubohu.

1.) That which is empty and formless; chaos; utter confusion (Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Edition).

Etymology: adoption of Hebrew thōhū wa-bhōhū, ‘emptiness and desolation’. Rendered in the KJV Genesis as ‘without form and void’. Cf. French thohu et bohu (Rabelais 1548) and tohu-bohu (Voltaire 1776).

"Who before Iago, in literature or in life, perfected the arts of disinformation, disorientation, and derangement? All these combine in Iago's grand program of uncreation, as Othello is returned to original chaos, to the Tohu and Bohu from which we came" (Shakespeare: the Invention of the Human, Harold Bloom, 1998).

("De Opere Prime Diei", from the Liber Chronicarum, Michael Wolgemut, 1493)


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Another new one I've never heard before!

D4 said...

Sounds like something my grandmother would say.. and probably does.

A Beer for the Shower said...

What a word. I bet if I dropped in randomly into a sentence, people would say I was just making it up.

Bibi said...

I've never heard anything like this! Such an amazing thing to say! *tohu bohu*... I need to think about a way or situation to use this, it's just so wonderful.

M. x said...

I wish I could pull off a word like that. Just casually say something like "oh shutup! That's just all tohu-bohu!"
But I bet it would go all wrong and I'd start giggling at myself or muddle the words together and be like.."no wait...was it bohu-tohu? Or maybe it was tohi-bohi...well, anyways...that's just all to-something..."
M. x

Meri said...

what a fun word! I am afraid I will forget it but I want to use it.

Anonymous said...

i'm so glad some one is writing this up; my mother used the phrase 'what utter tohuwabohu' when coming home from work and surveyong the house my brother and me had 'played' in. I think as she was German she picked up the usage from people using jiddish.

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