phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Flipping heck

Posted by Smokey Stover on August 12, 2009 at 03:06

In Reply to: Flipping heck posted by Victoria S Dennis on August 11, 2009 at 20:17:

: : : : What is origin of the English term 'flipping heck?'

: : : It's a minced oath--a deliberately mild version of something stronger that it sounds like. The two initials remained the same through this transformation. No doubt, you can figure out the original. ~rb

: : And it's one of those phrases that is kept alive largely by the media I think: the stronger version can't be used before the 'watershed' (9pm) and would be rare even then. Not many programmes on British television would use it even now, though they do exist.

: : Outside of television and so on I can't imagine many people would actually say 'flipping heck' nowadays. Even if they would draw the line at the phrase beginning with the letters 'FH', there are plenty of others that could be used instead that are stronger.

: : Or maybe it's just the circles I move in...

: : DFG

: I agree with DFG that this is largely a media euphemism nowadays. (BTW, does anybody in the USA *really* say "doggy-doos", or is that another term kept alive by the need to circumvent the censors?) I don't think I would ever say "flipping heck" myself; I do sometimes say "what the heck" in polite company but I would go for "effing" rather than "flipping". (As Smokey recently observed, I am averse to unnecessary obscenity - I prefer to save it for emergencies. This restraint has a rather delightful effect: you can actually shock people rigid by using a word that they themselves use daily.)

Yes, many people in the U.S. say doggy-do (that's the correct spelling), in quite a guiltless way. Likewise, many individuals would use a coarser but more realistic phrse even in mixed company. My own attitude is that on a word- and phrase-oriented Website, the real thing is often preferable to the minced version.

Writers for television and the movies like to suggest the real thing while sticking to substitutes. In the movie, "What a Girl Wants," the dad that the girl wanted at one point said, "I don't give a flying fart." On the other hand, in the latest "Bring It On" movie (about cheerleaders) one of the cheerleaders says, "I don't give a flying tuck." I figure we could combine these utterances into "I don't give a flying tart."

I think what I said of Victoria was that she combines acuity of insight with delicacy of phrasing. I would have said something better if I had her skill with words. I have to agree with her premise, familiarity (with vulgar words) breeds contempt.