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716: Squee

The lexicon available to us to express delight, excitement, joy, or any number of other emotions, doesn’t always feel quite adequate, at least in the English language. There could be ten thousand available words, but that doesn’t mean one will fit like you need or want it to.

Then, in 2016, the Oxford English Dictionary added “squee” to the official list of quote-unquote real words in the English language, defining it as an exclamation used to express great delight or excitement. But, as per usual, that’s not where the story of squee began.

Instead, squee started around 1865, when it was used to describe a high-pitched squealing or squeaking sound in the sentence “when, squee, rhepe, twiddle, went the third violin.” Then in the comic Magnus Robot Fighter 4000 AD, the comics used the word “squee” to describe the sound of a robot dying after it’s been killed by the hero.

And then, it was in a 1998 Usenet group conversation in that the modern usage of squee has been tracked down to. Someone was chatting about getting something Star Wars in the mail and expressed their happiness and excitement.

The reaction we as humans have to seeing something cute is pretty universal, and while the sound and the language we use to express the excitement may change… but a sound of squee seems pretty universal.