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"By George" An alternative

Posted by James Briggs on February 08, 2003

In Reply to: "By George" posted by ESC on February 08, 2003

: : I hear this expression quite often but am unable to find the origin and or history of. If anyone can satisfy my curiosity it would be appreciated greatly.
: : Thanks M.V.

: BY GEORGE ? ??Many of the milder oaths listed below follow the old Hebraic and Middle English tradition of avoiding the use of sacred words, such as God, by substituting words with the same initial letter. Thus for God the oaths substitute George, ginger, Godfrey, golly, gosh, gracious, gravy, grief, etc.? From I Hear America Talking: An Illustrated History of American Words and Phrases by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976).

It is the modern version of the old battle-cry of English soldiers, most well known in Shakespeare's Henry V where the King shouts: "for Harry, England and St George!"