Posted by ESC on October 11, 2003
In Reply to: Gee Willikers posted by Jolly Roger on October 10, 2003
: : : : I know it's probably american and I know that gee was supposedly a kid's reference to god but does anyone know where "willikers" came from and when the phrase was first used?
: : : Here's part of the answer:
: : : "Golly" dates back to 1743 in England. "Gee whillikens" back to 1857. "I Hear America Talking" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976). This substitution of a G-word for God follows ".the old Hebraic and Middle English tradition of avoiding the sacred words, such as God, by substituting words with the same initial letter." A Minced oath.
: : Other sources have some variations but no information on why "whillikens" or willikers: jewillikin ; gee whiz ; gee whitaker . From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).
: One of the Ten Commandments = Thou Shalt Not Take the Lord's Name in Vain
: In Catholic school we were told that meant never saying God or Jesus' name as an expression or a curse, but only in reverence. And that's why people substitute the word for something else like Jeeze! or Gawl Darnit. Or Gosh!
Ditto for the Baptists.
"The third of the Ten Commandments reads: 'Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.' (Exodus 20:7). But what is God's name? The biblical reference to God as Yehova (Jehova), spelled out with the Hebrew characters yad, hay, vav, hay, is generally considered the 'authentic' name of God, a name never to be pronounced (except by the High Priest when officiating on Yom Kippur) or written out.
Over the centuries other names for God, such as 'Adonai' (also pronounced 'Adonoy'), 'Lord,' were given the same status. Adonai was (and still is) used only in prayer. On the other occasions 'ha-Shem' or 'Adoshem' were used in its stead. Ha-Shem means 'the Name.' 'Adoshem' is a contraction of Adonai and ha-Shem.
In the last few decades, a new practice has come into vogue: that of not writing out in full the English names 'God' or 'Lord.' Most authorities consider that to be without foundation and no more than a passing fad."
From "The Jewish Book of Why" by Alfred J. Kolatch. Jonathan David Publishers Inc., Middle Village, New York, 1995.