What Does Oh the Humanity Mean?

Oh, the Humanity Meaning

Definition: Oh! How terrible!

Origin of Oh, the Humanity!

This expression is a quote from the news reporter Herbert Morrison in the year 1937. He was reporting on the Hindenburg, a zeppelin that was the largest aircraft ever built at the time. It was meant to be very luxurious.

As the Hindenburg neared the end of its very first flight, it caught fire. Because the Hindenburg was filled with hydrogen, it ignited in a huge fireball. People attempted to jump off to escape. Over 30 people died, and over 60 survived. The entire disaster was recorded on video, and Herbert Morrison can be heard reporting what is happening. He was very upset by the huge disaster, and exclaimed Oh, the humanity in horror.

Despite the dark origins of the quote, nowadays many people use the expression to call minor problems horrible problems.

Examples of Oh, the Humanity!

oh the humanity quote The dialogue below shows two friends discussing a problem one of them is having at work.

Giuseppe: I’m so sick of my coworker, Heidi.

May: Why? What has she done that is so bad?

Giuseppe: She is the worst! She is always smiling at me and acting so cheerful, even early in the mornings! She always asks about my weekend and wants to chitchat.

May: Yeah, that sounds awful.

Giuseppe: I can tell from your tone that you are being sarcastic, but it really is very annoying. I’m not at work to make friends. I need to focus on my work so that I can be efficient and leave on time. She even bought me a birthday cake on my birthday! Now I’m obligated to get her something in return!

May: Oh, the humanity!

Giuseppe: I can tell you think I’m ridiculous, but you just don’t understand.

oh the humanity of it all In the dialogue below, a father is talking to his daughter about not spending so much time online. This example also shows the expression used in a sarcastic manner.

Rafal: Vesna, you’ve been on the computer or your phone for hours. I’m going to enact a new rule that you can only be online for an hour a day.

Vesna: Yeah, God forbid I read my schoolbooks online in order to save trees.

Rafal: I can tell you think I am old fashioned, but it’s important to get out and interact with people.

Vesna: I know. Can you believe some people prefer to save gas and hang out with their friends online instead of in person. Oh, the humanity!

More Examples

This excerpt discusses the drought in California, and uses the quote for humorous effect.

  • Angelenos may confront, in addition to brown lawns and empty swimming pools, the specter of increasingly frizzy hair, dull skin and split ends. Oh, the humanity. –LA Times

The second excerpt discusses whether or not tourism is a basic human right.

  • No kidding. Why should anyone have to pay out of their own pockets to take a vacation? Oh, the humanity. –LA Times

Summary

The phrase oh, the humanity originally meant oh, how awful. However, nowadays most people use it sarcastically to make fun of someone who is treating a minor problem like a major one.

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