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My giddy aunt

Posted by Baceseras on December 28, 2009 at 14:45

In Reply to: My giddy aunt posted by Vatr on December 26, 2009 at 16:52:

: : : : : I'd always believed 'my giddy aunt' to be a 'minced oath' - 'my God Almighty'. Does anyone agree, or am I wrong about this?

: : : : Here's what I've found.
: : : : "Giddy", indicating "impulsive" or "scatterbrained", is apparently derived from Old English "gydig", which meant "mad, frenzied, possessed by God".

: : : My search engine produced an endless supply of citations for "Oh my giddy aunt," which when explained is always described as expressing surprise, with its origin as Dr. Briggs has explained it, and dating (in print) from the last decade of the 19th century.

: : : What surprises me is that it seems to be in such common use, although until today I had never but once seen or heard it. That once was either in a work by P.G. Wodehouse, or in a dream that I read it in a work by Wodehouse. Ergo, I conclude that it is a Britishism, somewhat alien on the North American continent.
: : : SS

: : American author of mabacre children's stories Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler) modified the phrase and slipped it into The Reptile Room when he had the Beaudelaire Orphans' Uncle Monty sign a letter "Your Giddy Uncle". The phrase must visit America often enough for me to have recognized it in modified form, but then I'm also a fan of Wodehouse, Python, et al. and may have picked it up from PBS.

: Quick dip, "sainted aunt" produced results that mentioned Wodehouse and earlier use. "Sainted", god-damned's "G.D.", "giddy". Just suggesting a possible connection...

[The Aunts in Wodehouse may or may not be sainted, but god-damned few of them are giddy. - B.]