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By Thor's Hammer!
October 14, 2009 11:12 AM   Subscribe

By the beard of Zeus! I'm looking for fantastic exclamations!

What are some actual, early-American exclamations of surprise? Looking more for expressions with unexpected references, such as, "Merlin's beard!" and less of "Gadzooks!," "Well paint me red and call me Shirley!", which are less ... mysterious, and more just goofy. Hope that makes sense.
posted by blahtsk to Writing & Language (86 answers total) 63 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sakes alive!
posted by ShadePlant at 11:14 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Zounds! Strewth! (Less goofy and nonsensical than they seem, they are, respectively, abbreviations of "God's wounds" and "God's truth")
posted by dersins at 11:15 AM on October 14, 2009


I've always been fond of:

Great Googly Moogly!
posted by specialnobodie at 11:20 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Damn your eyes!
posted by codswallop at 11:20 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Crom!
posted by josher71 at 11:21 AM on October 14, 2009


Well, I'll be hornswoggled!
posted by Pollomacho at 11:22 AM on October 14, 2009


Great Caesar's ghost!
posted by mosk at 11:23 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


n/m, just saw the admonition that you were interested in early American sayings...
posted by mosk at 11:25 AM on October 14, 2009


Odds Bodkins!
Cheese and rice!
Thundering typhoons!
posted by Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld at 11:35 AM on October 14, 2009


Poppycock!
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 11:35 AM on October 14, 2009


Oh, my stars and garters!
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:36 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm personally found of 'Dag nab-it!'
posted by From Bklyn at 11:36 AM on October 14, 2009


Horsefeathers!
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 11:36 AM on October 14, 2009


Banana oil!
posted by Comrade_robot at 11:38 AM on October 14, 2009


HOLY CRISPY CRAP!
posted by Windigo at 11:38 AM on October 14, 2009


Heavens to Mergatroid!

(I actually heard someone non-ironically say this once, and it wasn't a cartoon cat.)
posted by bondcliff at 11:39 AM on October 14, 2009


One of my favorites is from NPR's Car Talk:

Tom and or Ray will often exclaim "Sonja Henie's Tutu!!"
posted by tman99 at 11:41 AM on October 14, 2009


Jo Marsh was fond of saying "Christopher Columbus!"
posted by ejazen at 11:41 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, here is a list of Robin's exclamations from the 1960's Batman TV show.
posted by Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld at 11:43 AM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


The movie Anchorman was full of these. Whether any of them are actually categorized as "early American" is up for debate. I have no idea of the origins beyond Will Ferrell.

Sweet Lincoln's Mullet!
Uncle Jonathan's Corn Cob Pipe!
By the Beard of Zeus!
Great Odin's Raven!
posted by jerseygirl at 11:47 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well I'll be a monkey's uncle!
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:47 AM on October 14, 2009


"Sweet Zombie Jesus!" from the Professor , as well as any of Hermes's animal/geography exclamations
posted by namewithoutwords at 11:49 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


By historical account, Mark Twain was fond of repeating the last thing head said in detail, loudly, for emphasis... IN DETAIL, LOUDLY, FOR EMPHASIS!!!
posted by Oireachtac at 11:51 AM on October 14, 2009


(Also, anything exclaimed by Captain Haddock from Tintin is most likely a historical derivative)
posted by Oireachtac at 11:53 AM on October 14, 2009


Hell's bells and a buck of blood!
posted by COBRA! at 12:00 PM on October 14, 2009


Shit, if it's going to be that kind of party, I'm going to stick my dick in the mashed potatoes!
posted by namewithoutwords at 12:03 PM on October 14, 2009


From a Seinfeld episode, my go-to exclamation is "Sweet Fancy Moses!!!".

YMMV, early-american reference-wise.
posted by dnesan at 12:04 PM on October 14, 2009


Blue blazes!
posted by np312 at 12:05 PM on October 14, 2009


Land a Goshen!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:05 PM on October 14, 2009


What in tarnation?!

Holy Toledo, Ohio!

Santa Maria!

Jiminy Christmas!
posted by Acacia at 12:13 PM on October 14, 2009


What are some actual, early-American exclamations of surprise?

it sounds like you're looking for something along the lines of a minced oath - phrases like, "What in Sam Hill?" (a substitute for "What the hell?") or "Jesum Crow!" and "Jiminy Cricket!" (both serving as substitutes for "Jesus Christ")
posted by jammy at 12:15 PM on October 14, 2009


Oh, Good Gravy! I forgot "Cheese and Rice!"
posted by Acacia at 12:16 PM on October 14, 2009


In the Howard Frank Mosher book A Stranger in the Kingdom (takes place in rural Vermont in the 50s) the dad, who never swears, has an exclamation "Mister Baby Johnson!" No idea if it's based on anything real or not.
posted by jessamyn at 12:16 PM on October 14, 2009


"Joseph and Mary in Tinseltown!"
posted by dephlogisticated at 12:20 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the Wizard of Oz: "Well bust my buttons!"
posted by dephlogisticated at 12:21 PM on October 14, 2009


Heavens to Betsy!
By Jove!
Judas priest!
Fiddlesticks!
Land sakes!
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 12:22 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sweet Fancy Moses!
posted by blue_beetle at 12:23 PM on October 14, 2009


Paint me blue, and call me Lester.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 12:39 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jumpin' Jehosaphat!
posted by chrisamiller at 12:40 PM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fiddle!
posted by The World Famous at 12:41 PM on October 14, 2009


E.B. Farnum: Some ancient Italian maxim fits our situation, whose particulars escape me.
Francis Wolcott: Is the gist that I'm shit out of luck?
E.B. Farnum: Did they speak that way then?

posted by rokusan at 12:44 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Son of a nutcracker!
posted by rebeccabeagle at 12:44 PM on October 14, 2009


Land's sakes!
Ain't that the cat's pyjamas!
Well, I'll be jiggered!
posted by rokusan at 12:49 PM on October 14, 2009


Mother of pearl!
posted by Mavri at 12:53 PM on October 14, 2009


Cripes!
posted by clearly at 1:05 PM on October 14, 2009


Son of a gun!

Codswallop!

Criminy!

Horse hockey!

Screaming meemies!

23 skidoo!
posted by Rhaomi at 1:23 PM on October 14, 2009


Sink me! Od's fish!
posted by Iridic at 1:32 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Oh for the love of Pete!" was one I heard a great deal growing up in the Midwest. I was never clear if "Pete" meant St. Peter or Jesus or some other figure.
posted by chairface at 1:34 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sweet Mother of Preston Tucker!
Mutual of Omaha!
Eyes Without a Face!

More.
posted by kmz at 1:41 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bashi-bazouks!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:47 PM on October 14, 2009


Gee whiz, no-one's said gee whiz yet? How about that?
Goodness gracious!
Holy Cats! Holy Moses! Holy mackerel! Heavenly days!
Sweet Jumping Jesus!
Land O'Goshen!

I note that some of the answers don't quite stick to the rules (I'm looking at you, Horsefeathers!) The idea! OP is looking for an exclamation of surprise, not just an exclamation. For shame! For crying out loud!

Oh hang it all, don't get your bowels in an uproar. And now I'm off on a tangent. So it goes. Just try and stop me! You and what army?

OT: Now you got me worked up in a lather! I have to let some more out. Some of my (non-American) favourites are from Tintin's Captain Haddock:

Billions of Blue Blistering Barnacles!
Ten thousand thundering thyphoons!
Baboons! Baby-snatchers!
Bashi-bazouks! Bagpipers!
Bald-headed budgerigars!
Blackguards! Brigands! Brutes! Bucaneers! (he liked the B's.)
Ectoplasm!
Troglodytes!

Thank you Hergé for making profanity fun.

Good riddance.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 2:25 PM on October 14, 2009


ActingTheGoat: Jinx.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 2:26 PM on October 14, 2009


For the love of Maude!
posted by Sophie1 at 2:48 PM on October 14, 2009


"Gosh oh hemlock!" - Andy Hardy
posted by paisley sheep at 3:05 PM on October 14, 2009


Captain Haddock's curses.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:32 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good Gravy Marie --Brett Somers
posted by nimsey lou at 3:39 PM on October 14, 2009


oops. I guess I missed the early American requirement.
posted by nimsey lou at 3:41 PM on October 14, 2009


Oh, bother.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 3:42 PM on October 14, 2009


Sweet Sassy Molassey!
posted by jtfowl0 at 3:43 PM on October 14, 2009


I'm going to guess that they're not authentic early american, but that Onion article about landing on the f---ing moon had a bunch (e.g.: Jesus H. Christ in a chicken basket! )
posted by madmethods at 4:01 PM on October 14, 2009


Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ.
posted by fiercekitten at 4:25 PM on October 14, 2009


A girl I work with says 'Tiddly-winks!' with a straight face.
posted by jasondigitized at 4:48 PM on October 14, 2009


Shatner!
posted by The World Famous at 4:54 PM on October 14, 2009


Crikey! (Date: 1838, Etymology: euphemism for Christ —used as a mild oath)

Oh bother (circa 1926 for Winnie the Pooh - urbandictionary says it was Winnie the Pooh's version of "Mother fucking shit" =)
posted by filthy light thief at 5:16 PM on October 14, 2009


On the order of "Zounds!" and "Strewth!" there's also the Shakespearean "S'Blood!" a contraction of By God's Blood!
posted by stennieville at 6:58 PM on October 14, 2009


Solomon Grundy!
posted by bennett being thrown at 7:37 PM on October 14, 2009


Leapin' Lizards
Holy Moley (sp?)
By the Power of Grayskull
posted by doctor_negative at 7:41 PM on October 14, 2009


Wooh-wee! Shut my mouth! Slap yo' Grandma!
posted by chicago2penn at 7:51 PM on October 14, 2009


Nobody's said "By jingo!" yet? Apparently all of you haven't read Cheaper by the Dozen nearly as many times as my sisters and I have.
posted by crinklebat at 8:27 PM on October 14, 2009


the title character has quite a few in the sadly obscure single season "middleman" tv show.

"EYES WITHOUT A FACE!"
posted by rmd1023 at 8:48 PM on October 14, 2009


"Balls of Boris!"

I read this quote in an old Magic: the Gathering book by Clayton Emery titled "Whispering Woods."
posted by matticulate at 9:45 PM on October 14, 2009


One I'm trying to push "Whisky Tango Foxtrot"
posted by Towelie at 9:46 PM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh for crying in the beer!
posted by chazlarson at 9:47 PM on October 14, 2009


Mahatma Gandhi!
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:50 PM on October 14, 2009


Well, fuck me with a chainsaw!
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:51 PM on October 14, 2009


Nobody's said "By jingo!" yet? Apparently all of you haven't read Cheaper by the Dozen nearly as many times as my sisters and I have.

My dad is a big fan of "Holy Jingo!" but I don't think he's read the book. (Great book, though)
posted by mikepop at 6:08 AM on October 15, 2009


You could always make a Galaxy Quest fan in earshot squee with "By Grabthar's hammer"

If you're looking for the full swoon here's the whole line:

"By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged!"
posted by laptolain at 7:49 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, suck me sideways!
posted by Demogorgon at 7:59 AM on October 15, 2009


It can be fun to make up your own too. A game I used to play with my exgirlfriend was to take turns inventing new middle names for Jesus using the next letter of the alphabet. My absolute favorite was Jesus Appletini Christ! But Jesus Honeysuckle Christ was great too.

Both hers. She was really good.
posted by sambosambo at 8:00 AM on October 15, 2009


Cheese and Crackers! (Jesus Christ)

Shut the front door! ('shut the fuck up')

Pickles!

What in the name of High School Football?! (The Rich Texan from Simpsons)
posted by pepcorn at 8:40 AM on October 15, 2009


My grandfather used to mutter "dampen plaster" for "damn and blast it".
I use "Blood and Thunder" on occasion, because it works for me.
posted by mdoar at 9:40 AM on October 15, 2009


I've always been partial to Homer Simpson's "sweet merciful crap" myself.
posted by Twicketface at 10:02 AM on October 15, 2009


No one has mentioned "great balls of fire!"??
posted by kitkatcathy at 10:19 AM on October 15, 2009


I am a fan of:

"Son of a damnit!"

And what about The Big Bang Theory's:

"Bazinga!"
posted by StarmanDXE at 11:23 AM on October 15, 2009


Check out TV Tropes' "Oh My Gods". The one from Rome is most memorable.
posted by jayne at 4:54 PM on November 30, 2009


I realize this is a little late in the game but, one of my favs is; Well Smack My Ass And Call Me Sally! And with a tip o' tha Hat to FZ; Great Mooglely Googlely!!
posted by sgobbare at 2:59 PM on December 8, 2009


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