Geek Trivia: Cheaper by the d'oh-zen

How many times has the word 'd'oh' appeared in the dialogue of a script for The Simpsons?

How many times has Homer Simpson's trademark d'oh appeared in the dialogue of episode scripts for The Simpsons?

Never.

That's right, the catchphrase that has come to define one of the most memorable characters in television history has never made an appearance in any script for that character's television show.

First and foremost, d'oh is a creation of voice actor Dan Castellaneta — the voice of Homer — who conjured up the exclamation on the spot when asked to produce an "annoyed grunt" for the animated short "The Krusty the Clown Show." That short appeared on the Jan. 19, 1989 episode of The Tracey Ullman Show, from which The Simpsons originated.

The word d'oh never appeared in that script. And by tradition, it hasn't appeared in any subsequent script for any Simpsons episode. Rather than being prompted for a "d'oh," the only instruction any of the Simpsons voice actors — not just Castellaneta — receive is to produce another "annoyed grunt," which, as a bit of inside baseball for the show, is actually a prompt for the annoyed grunt. Namely, d'oh.

For the first nine seasons of the show, this tradition even extended to episode titles, which were often puns on the word d'oh. For example, the title "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)" is a pun on "E-I-E-I-D'oh," which is a pun on the "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" chorus "E-I-E-I-O." The same is true of the G.I. Joe parody "G.I. (Annoyed Grunt)," the I, Robot riff "I, (Annoyed Grunt)bot," and the pun on the Mary Poppins catchphrase Supercalifragilisticexpialidoscious, "Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)scious."

Writers abandoned the tradition of including the pun in titles in season 10, with "D'oh-in' in the Wind," though the dialogue still calls for annoyed grunts rather than the explicit catchphrase. In some cases, this has led to "annoyed grunt" appearing instead of "d'oh" in the closed captioning of Simpsons episodes, as the caption writers were working off the recording scripts.

For the record, the Oxford English Dictionary defines d'oh as "expressing frustration at the realization that things have turned out badly or not as planned, or that one has just said or done something foolish." The reference also notes that the phrase dates back to 1945 but The Simpsons popularized it. This despite the fact that Homer & Co. were never scripted to say d'oh. That's not just a pop-cultural accomplishment — it's linguistically laughable Geek Trivia.

The Quibble of the Week

If you uncover a questionable fact or debatable aspect of this week's Geek Trivia, just post it in the discussion area. Every week, yours truly will choose the best post from the assembled masses and discuss it in a future edition of Geek Trivia.

This week's quibble comes from July 25 edition of Geek Trivia, "Game within a (video) game." TechRepublic member jr_G-man pointed out an egregious misattribution on my part.

"Zork (and Zork Zero) was published by Infocom, not Infogames."

My bad, devoted Zorkers. Thanks for smacking me straight, and keep those quibbles coming.

Falling behind on your weekly Geek fix?

Check out the Geek Trivia Archive, and catch up on the most recent editions of Geek Trivia.

The Trivia Geek, also known as Jay Garmon, is a former advertising copywriter and Web developer who's duped TechRepublic into underwriting his affinity for movies, sci-fi, comic books, technology, and all things geekish or subcultural.

Test your command of useless knowledge by subscribing to TechRepublic's Geek Trivia newsletter. Automatically sign up today!

By Jay Garmon

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...