The 3 Most Powerful Letters In The English Language

wordsshieldWords can be powerful weapons, but one little suffix can beat them all.  Three letters provide a mighty shield for the user to hide behind.

I’m talking about “ish.”

“ish” means neither yes nor no.  It admits while admitting nothing.  It agrees while reserving the right to disagree.  It appears to condemn while allowing a backdoor escape hatch that leads straight to wholehearted approval.  This versatility is why it is a favorite screwdriver in a politician’s tool-belt.

“I did not have sex with that woman.  It was sex-ish.”

“I know there are weapons of mass destruction there.  I have proof-ish.”

“Obamacare will be better-ish for 98.9%-ish of Americans.”

“We MUST make the border secure-ish immediately-ish! “

Add this bad boy to just about any utterance and you’ve got the holy grail of political speechifying:  deniability.

“ish” is the backbone of Euphemish.

Euphemish noun \’yü-fə-mish\
      a: A language, or dialect, featuring the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant.
      Synonyms: Sugarcoat, spin, mislead, lie
      Origin: from the Greek, euphēmos auspicious, sounding good.

As the world’s leading authority on Euphemish, I have done several academic treatises (otherwise known as blog posts) on the topic.  You can read more about it here, here, and here.

With “ish”, you can CYA (cover your assets) when you:

  • think something is POSSIBLY true
  • are pretty sure it’s not even REMOTELY true
  • do not want to be called out when it is revealed to epitomize the TOTAL ABSENCE OF true
  • are sure IT IS true and are even more sure that most people DON’T WANT IT TO BE true

Unleash the power of “ish” in your life.  Because in the immortal words of a very famous politician who I just made up:

They can’t nail you, if they can’t nail you down.

Charles Durning shows the art and science of doing a little sidestep in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”

About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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58 Responses to The 3 Most Powerful Letters In The English Language

  1. dmswriter says:

    When did we start getting so squishy? It’s like no one can have a definite viewpoint anymore. Jeez, even “squishy” has ish in it!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. AthenaC says:

    What a great-ish idea-ish! I will immediately-ish make sure-ish that I implement-ish that idea-ish in all of my writing-ish!


  3. susielindau says:

    Ish was a word when I was growing up. It meant gross.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Carrie Rubin says:

    I never say ‘ish’ because I feel pretentious doing so. But now that Peg says it’s okay, I’m going for it! Right away-ish.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Molly raises paw and remarks clearly, “Ishy stink after 3 days.”
    We’re considering running her for president


  6. momshieb says:

    Wellish done, Peg!


  7. franhunne4u says:

    Think this is kind of good-ish advice. You can equally use -like for a greater variety.


  8. Deborah the Closet Monster says:

    You know, I really see a lot of power in this tool for what I’m working on currently. If any of my assessment comes up weak-ish, with enough tempering “ish” in there, I can say: “I didn’t say it was good–I said it was good-ish!” (Or: How to Deliver Results without Delivering Results)


  9. Al says:

    This post is sorta, kinda, maybe, possibly Freshly Pressedish.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. List of X says:

    I think I’m going to start using the word “fish” as a PG-rated euphemish for the other four letter f-word.


  11. I always use “ish” when talking about time. “I’ll be there around noonish” This is because I really have no clue what time it is most of the day, plus I can’t see my watch very well so if I do get there on time it’s really rareish.


    • pegoleg says:

      I know someone who always comes to events on ish-time. I’m usually 5 minutes late for everything, but this person arrives for dinner when the main course has become icicle-ish


  12. Amanda Shivrattan says:

    Reblogged this on Amanda Writes.


  13. Yessiree bob! Those 3 little letters most definitely, for sure and without a shadow of a doubt leave the door open for all sorts of wiggle room.


  14. Now that you mention it “ish” is kind of brilliantish. I intend to make a point of using it more often.


  15. I use “ish” when I feel like speaking Englishish. Don’t scoff. It’s a thingish.


  16. There are so many people “dancing a little sidestep” these days, it’s become the norm unfortunately.


  17. I’m with you, Darla. I’ll be there about 8’ish. Except, if I’m taking Dad to his 3-day/week job, aka, dialysis. Have to be there by 8am so he gets there in time. Otherwise, I’m all about the 10 minute float of “meet you at 5’ish.” You stole this from me, didn’t you, Peg of my heart?


  18. Dana says:

    Why does my arm ish? Is there a mosquito in here?


  19. I just read all 41 comments and was amazed to see that no one had made mention of Ish Kabibble.


  20. I’m an ish kind of girl – it’s an alternative to adding “or whatever” at the end of a sentence which gives the impression you don’t care; ish still keeps the care in there, ish is more respectable.


  21. PiedType says:

    Even my doctor used it. He cited a number from a lab report and I asked, “So is that positive or negative?” and he said “Negative-ish.”


  22. Texas politics have always been ‘ish’. Time has always been ‘ish’ for Southern women. Now the entire world is ‘ish’. Ya’ll are catching up.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. The Cutter says:

    I’ll “ish” the crap out of things sometimes. I try to tell myself I’m doing it ironically.


  24. Margie says:

    I made a clock and added ‘ish’ after all of the numbers. It has an hour hand, but I didn’t put a minute hand on it. Real ‘ish’ time.


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