Thursday, November 13, 2014

Jeepers, they’re euphemisms

Did you know that gee is “probably a shortening of Jesus! (or Jerusalem! )”?

Did you know that jeez or jeeze is a corruption of Jesus?

Did you know that jeepers is also a corruption of Jesus?

And did you know that sheesh is “probably an alteration of jeez ”?

I found my way to these words after using the word jeepers in an e-mail and wondering where it came from. The Oxford English Dictionary identifies all four words as originating in American English. Gee is the oldest (1895). The OED labels jeez (1923) and jeepers (1929) as slang, sheesh (1959) as colloquial. 1959? Sheesh was in use well before that. I can hear Ed Norton speaking to Ralph Kramden, somewhere in the 1955–1956 season of The Honeymooners: “Sheesh, what a grouch!” Get on it, OED.

[My answers to these questions: yes, yes, no, no.]

comments: 9

Geo-B said...

pre-cursors

Michael Leddy said...

+1.

Diane Schirf said...

I knew that and if I did it would be amazing if you didn't! (I know so little.)

Michael Leddy said...

I didn’t know that!

Zhoen said...

I like my oaths minced extra fine.

Michael Leddy said...

What about steel-cut oaths?

Zhoen said...

Ooooo, yum. But often overpriced.

Frex said...

Well, jeepers, I had thought "sheesh" was a variation of "shit".
[--Fresca]

Michael Leddy said...

You’re looking for shucks. Really. Oh shucks.