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Ungodly hour

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on July 26, 2011 at 20:28

In Reply to: Ungodly hour posted by ESC on July 10, 2011 at 17:10:

: : Does anyone know the origin of the phrase, "ungodly hour?" I have used it many times and considered suddenly that it probably has an interesting origin.

: Guessing that at a certain time, godly people who had to rise up early the next morning and earn an honest living were asleep. And the bad people -- midnight creepers, etc. -- were up and stirring at an ungodly hour.

Not quite. The OED points out that since the 16th century "ungodly" has had the sense "Of actions, etc: Not in accordance with the will or law of God"; and that by the late 19th century this sense had developed in colloquial speech to meaning simply "outrageous, dreadful". One can speak of an "ungodly noise", for example. So if you say you are required to start work at an "ungodly hour", you mean that it's an outrageous time to expect someone to get up. (VSD)