Posted by Smokey Stover on June 25, 2006
In Reply to: Scare the jeepers out of me posted by David FG on June 25, 2006
: : : : : : Hi ,
: : : : : : would you tell me what does it meen "scare the jeepers out of me"?
: : : : : : thank you
: : : : :
: : : : : It simply means to give you a great fright. 'Jeepers' here is an arbitrary word which doesn't really mean anything and the phrase is frequently used with alternatives used in its place.
: : : : : DFG
: : : :
: : : : "Jeepers" is a minced form of "Jesus". It occurs in the phrase "jeepers creepers" (="Jesus Christ"). A commoner form of your phrase is "scare the bejeezus/bejasus out of me". "Bejasus" (variously spelt) is a phonetic form of the Irish pronunciation of "By Jesus".
: : :
: : : You are, of course, correct. But why "scaring the 'Jesus'" (in one or other minced form) should be a particularly advanced form of scaring is a mystery to this Irishman who thinks that 'bejasus' is used far more frequently by those attempting to imitate the Irish than by the genuine article.
: : : We don't say (contrary to popular opinion) say 'begorrah' much, either.
: : : DFG
: : And I've never said "gidday mate" nor heard it in the wild very often. Pamela
: 'strewth, mate, is that fair dinkum Sheila?
I"m not going to mince words. Whoever said "scare the jeepers out of me" to Andrea is using non-standard English in a non-standard way. If there is such a thing as a solecism in using slang, this is it. "Jeepers" is a minced oath, but it is a stand-alone minced oath, along with its fleshed-out companion, "jeepers creepers," which I have probably only heard in the song.
"Jeepers" is among the tamest minced oaths known to man, along with gee, golly and heck. You know, of course, that Heck is where you go when you die if you don't believe in Gosh. People use the word for humor, as in, "May you rot in Heck!" Or, "Give 'em Heck, soldier!" But even God-fearing mothers of young children find no fault with "jeepers." "Jeepers, Veronica, is that a zit?" "Shut up, Archie, or I'll tell everybody you've got a tumor, and you know where."
Do children--or their non-Phrasefinder parents--know that they're dealing with Christian blasphemy? My rather slim experience suggests that Jews, whether religious or not, don't use the panoply of minced oaths heard every day among the children of people raised to be either Christian church-goers or Christian non-church-goers. I don't know any Jewish or, say, Pakistani children, so I don't know if they ever say "gee" or "golly". I have known a girl born to Hindu parents from the time she started school in America in the fourth grade until she graduated this month from eighth grade. Her English is better that that of most eighth-graders. I have never heard her use any interjection at all except "Oh!" Not "Oh, darn," not "Oh, pooey," nor "Oh, shoot!" More like, "Oh, you mean..." or "Oh, sure." If someone has knowledge or experience in this area, I hope you'll share.