Post by Jerry Friedman Post by Peter T. Daniels Post by Peter Moylan
"The Newcomes" (1854/1855) - William Makepeace Thackeray,
English (1811/1863) . You can also use "(oh) me, oh my" to
express surprise, incredulity, or pleasure.
Especially if you happen to be visiting 1854.
And while you are at it, why not use the extended version: "oh
me, oh my Giddy Aunt".
I recently heard this on a TV program, and it struck me as a
very prudish euphemism for something else. I could not figure out
what the 'giddy aunt' was meant to conceal.
"Oh my god"?
Seems reasonable to me. The OED says only
"colloquial (originally and chiefly British). my (giddy, sainted,
etc.) aunt!: used as an exclamation expressing surprise,
consternation, etc. Now somewhat dated."
In Kipling, "giddy" looks like a euphemism for "God-damned", but
maybe I'm wrong about that, since it wouldn't go too well with "my
aunt" as a euphemism for "my God".
Anything that starts with "g" would do. It probably started with people
who started to say "god" and had to find a substitute in a hurry.
Another version is "Oh my godfather".
Similarly, someone who started to say "Jesus Christ" and then realised
they shouldn't would switch to "jeepers creepers".
This sort of thing is common, I've noticed, among religious people who
rapidly change what they're saying when they notice that other members
of their church are within hearing.
Even my own parents. There used to be a variant in the wording of the
song "Ain't We Got Fun" with the lines
There's nothing surer
The rich get rich and the poor get children.
On a number of occasions I heard my mother singing "... and the poor get
Peter Moylan Newcastle, NSW http://www.pmoylan.org