I have for some time been interested in the development of whatever into a standalone comment (OED: “Usually as a response, suggesting the speaker’s reluctance to engage or argue, and hence often implying passive acceptance or tacit acquiescence; also used more pointedly to express indifference, indecision, impatience, scepticism, etc.”), and now Mark Liberman at Language Log has satisfied my curiosity with a post on the subject. It turns out to be attested as far back as the early ’70s (first OED cite: “1973 To our Returned Prisoners of War (U.S. Secretary of Defense, Public Affairs) 10 Whatever, equivalent to ‘that’s what I meant’. Usually implies boredom with topic or lack of concern for a precise definition of meaning.”), and it’s now frequently reduced to “wev”:

Is it boring to listen to my stream-of-consciousness? It must be, or I would have more readers! However, this blog is fun, regardless, so wev.
(Gotta love that paranoid chipmunk…except that it’s really a prairie dog, but wev.)
Just my opinion though mind you, so wev.
HAH. ok wev…moving on.

I would have thought this was a purely graphic abbreviation, but apparently it’s spoken as well. Just one more proof that I’m hopelessly out of it. Wev.


  1. I’d never heard “wev”, but my boss at work says “whatevs”.

  2. I’ve never heard “wev” either; it’s always “whatev” or “whatevs”. Though all three are equally as annoying.

  3. yeah, I had never heard or seen it before Mark’s post. I frequent the WorldofWarcraft forums, and it’s not there, so this “widespread” use seems suspect to me.

  4. Well, I’ve heard “whatev”, but that’s more of a valley girl response than a mainstream one. I unfortunately use the word “whatever” in that context more often than I should. I’m working on that though 🙂

  5. For what it’s worth, I am unaware of having heard wev, but I was immediately aware of what it meant when I saw it in the LL post… Perhaps I’ve been ignoring it in spoken context?

  6. dearieme says:

    Perhaps in Britain we should say “whichever”?

  7. Never heard or seen wev in Australia.

  8. Me neither. Or anywhere else for that matter. I’ve always used it in the full context, blah blah. Meh. Wev.
    (There’s a 1st time for everything, no?)

  9. Sure Dan. We can always wev it into the conversation somehow – especially on the /βeβ/. Wev, shwev.

  10. You know what? WHAT-EVAH!

  11. Yes, Troy, but are they are as annoying as “equally as annoying”?

  12. Ibod Catooga says:

    I like to poop on cats.

  13. SnowLeopard says:

    Never seen or heard “wev”, but I did see “obvs”, once, for “obviously.” I wonder if that’s pronounced as well. Of course, I often interpret the retort “whatever” to mean “what you think and why you think it are unimportant”, and in my line of work you can’t get away with saying that, or that something is “obvious”, so I tend to tolerate neither.

  14. (O, I ought to have written Wev, shmev, oughtn’t I to have? Ah, Wev, shmev, Shmev, shmev. Wev.)

  15. I’ve never heard or seen “wev” here in Zild, either. It took a moment to parse, because I read it as w.e.v., for some reason.

  16. I’m occasionally tempted to say, and not merely write, “obvs”, and I suspect that if I started writing “wev” I’d be tempted to say it too. (It would be interesting to find out if pronounced “wev” has replaced “whatever” generally in those who pronounce it, and if not, in what circumstances the replacement is made.) But then these sorts of innovation are always bidirectional.

  17. I’ve not heard “wev” (thankfully, I think). But I’ve seen “obvs” and “obvi” in comments on several blogs. I have two very hip kids who frequently say “wuuttevva.” They’re masters of IM-speak. Their most common utterance is a slurring of “all right?,” for which I’ve never seen a written equivalent. It sounds like “ay-yte?” and is uttered very quickly and sloppily.

  18. speedwell says:

    Is “wev” how it’s seriously spelled? I had only heard it spoken, figured out what it was meant to be an abbreviation of, and spelled it mentally as “w/ev.”

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