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Gee Willikers

Posted by Jolly Roger on October 10, 2003

In Reply to: Gee Willikers posted by ESC on October 10, 2003

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!

: : : 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).