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.