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English Culture/Origin of a phrase


Ernie Jones wrote at 2011-10-21 14:56:52
Actually, I don't know of any evidence to suggest that anti-Catholic sentiment played into it, or that the phrase was used solely by protestants.

The most common and compelling explanation for the phrase is that it is a sound-alike for the exclamation "Jesus Christ!" as an expletive, which many people would consider to be taking the name of the Lord in vain: "Judas" as a sound-alike for "Jesus" and "Priest" as a sound-alike for "Christ".

So the first part of Mike's explanation is actually sufficient to cover the entire phrase.  It is indeed a softening euphemism, such as "egads" for "ye gods", or in modern times "shoot", "dang", and "freaking" for their obvious parallels.

Lady Britophile wrote at 2013-07-24 05:19:22
As a British history buff of 40+ years, I must disagree with several of the origins of what the expert refers to as "soft swears".  The word "bloody" had nothing to do with the Virgin Mary; it actually derived from a common exclamation or the early 16th century, "God's Blood!"  Also, none of these eventual contractions have anything whatsoever to do with America. They evolved as a way to avoid saying the original phrase during the reformation, particularly during the end of Henry VIII's reign and that of his son's, Edward VI, who was himself a staunch Protestant surrounded by his Protector and advisors who were themselves Protestant anti-Catholics.  During that time, anyone who was overheard speaking a known Catholic phrase was subject to arrest and worse.  THAT is how the contractions evolved.

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Michael FitzGerald


English literature up to about the 1960s, especially poetry.


Published author, prizewinning poet and author of two collections of poetry. Have also translated poems from German.

Society of Authors

BA (Honours) Philosophy, ALA, CTEFLA, CDO

Awards and Honors
Various poetry and translation prizes, historical biography of the month (chosen by the Good Book Guide).

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