Posted by Smokey Stover on September 16, 2004
In Reply to: Stap my vitals! posted by David FG on September 15, 2004
: : this a sentence much used in Restoration farce and comedy by Congreve an Vanbrugh, and later by Sheridan and others (Byron and Thackeray)
: : can anybody help with with meaning; I gather 'stap' is either 'stop' or a corruption of 'stuff' and vitals refers to the main bodily organs
: : any ideas???
: I think you are right, and is a phrase like 'blow me down' or 'stone me' which are used (or used to be; I get the impression that, in the UK and Ireland at least, they are less frequent)as expressions of surprise. As in, 'do you know that John has got married?' 'Has he, well xxxx me!'
: Phrases may change, I think the meaning doesn't.
OED, s.v. stap: "affected pronunciation of STOP v., in the phrase stap my vitals, used as an exclamation of surprise, anger, etc., or as an asseveration.
Prob. the first quot. is the source of the phrase. Lord Foppington, the speaker, pronounces a for o throughout. Cf. GAD, EGAD, and the pronunciations 'Laard', 'plaat' (for Lord, plot) attributed to Titus Oates." SS