Used it 19 times in the article. Photo by Antoine Boissonot on Unsplash

Hey, did you like the food?


The answer is open for debate.

Easily the most powerful sound changed into word right now.

Let’s see what the definition says, “hmm is used in writing to show the sound you make to express reflection or hesitation.”

Hmm is a life-saving and golden word for saving your ass on the line.

Fact check: 

Checked my WhatsApp conversations- 137 hmm and counting.

Hard to find someone not using this terrific word in times of distress. I would challenge the dictionary definition as it is not doing justice to the effect it has on lives.

What is “hmm” then?

Ok, let’s see the near therapeutic effects.

Shall we?

Your girlfriend is rambling on about some girl fight she had with a friend. She is trying to justify her stand and that she was right in giving a mouthful to her friend.

Here comes the tricky part. 

Since you weren’t listening to any of the cacophonies, you are completely oblivious to what just happened. 

Is this the tricky part? No, this is a fact.

The tricky part is- she just asked about whether she was right or wrong, or any opinion you might have.

What do you do?

You say (long pause)………hmm.

Sublime, bliss. Why? It shows you are serious. It shows you heard the entire rambling (cacophony) to be precise. Ya, probably you didn’t hear a word of it, but you saved yourself. 

What next?

Not much you would do since she would start all over again and you can take a cue somewhere as to what the noise is about.

Check out an office scenario.

You are in the middle of a meeting with numbers being flashed from everywhere. Quarterly, half-yearly and annual achievements being discussed and it looks so tense out there. You think this is all shit since your appraisals are not aligned. The company says 30 percent growth while your increment seems to be more of the leftover currency note found in some old jeans.

Long story short- you are just not there and suddenly realize that your manager is staring at you.

Don’t panic, just take a deep breath and reply with “hmmm” with all earnestness. This hmm will save your life by faking that you were paying attention to the conversation and were introspecting deeply on the year gone by and planning your next move.

What is hmm then? We are onto the original question now.

I believe it’s a word open for interpretation. While technically it is neither a yes, nor a no but its usage exceeds the definition we are trying to fit it into.

From not agreeing to show consent to something, avoiding to embracing something, the word has exemplary powers to fit in just anywhere with ease. 

It’s like water, amalgamating in the meaning of the conversation just like water takes the shape of the container.

It provides unique freedom and authority to the user. 

Yes, no, may-be or avoiding and even showing disinterest- Hmm has you covered.

In the world of extreme pressure, hmm is your weapon of mass avoidance. It liberates you and gives you the power to stay relevant because all you need is a hmm at the end of any rambling, serious issue, or humor. 

Some serious tips:

Longer the hmm, the deeper the meaning.

Hmm with a head nod, absolute seriousness.

Shorter the hmm, reflects low/fake interest.

Longer the hmm with a head nod, either faking interest or total devotion.

What’s your go-to hmm?

If you don’t like the article, I’d say- long hmm (open for interpretation)

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