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Re: Where in Tarnation

Posted by ESC on March 21, 2009 at 11:33

In Reply to: Where in Tarnation posted by Lacy on March 21, 2009 at 10:45:

: Where did the phrase "Where in Tarnation" come from?

Merriam-Webster online says:

Main Entry: tar·na·tion
Pronunciation: "tär-'nA-sh&n
Function: noun
Etymology: alteration of darnation, euphemism for damnation
Date: 1790
: DAMNATION -- often used as an interjection or intensive; often used with in

Another source says it has been used in New England since colonial times and it is "a euphemism for damnation! or damn!. The best guess is that it derives from the English 'tarnal!' which itself derives from the mild interjection 'eternal!'" From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).