Posted by: Jack Henry | July 28, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Butter my what?

Dear Editrix,

I saw some movie and an older guy said “dagnabbit”. So, I was like, “Dagnabbit, where did that come from?” Sounds like a job for Super K, otherwise known as my friend Kara. Here are some other words I found like dagnabbit: blimey, butter my butt and call me a biscuit, Gordon Bennett, strike me pink, and tarnation.


My friend, Javier,

These look like examples of interjections—abrupt remarks, like an interruption or exclamation. I’d say as far as your list, they might also be used as more polite versions of some cursing that people do. In the case of dagnabbit, the dictionary describes it as a mixed-up alternative to a curse word with the same number of syllables and beginning with the word “god.” (I don’t want to offend, so those are all of the hints you’re going to get.) It reminds me of my grandma, who would say things like, “For the love of Pete,” or “For Pete’s sake,” instead of blaspheming.

Let’s check out some of the other words you mentioned. These definitions are all from Wiktionary.

  • Blimey: British
    A minced oath from [God] blind me, concurrent with or from an abbreviation of gorblimey. [KC –
    Gorblimey is from the Cockney pronunciation of God blind me.]
  • “Butter my butt and call me a biscuit”: Southern United States
    An expression of astonishment upon learning something unbelievable (usually positive).
  • Gordon Bennett: British
    An expression of surprise, contempt, outrage, disgust, or frustration.

From James Gordon Bennett, Jr., a New York newspaper proprietor and playboy during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who became widely known for his extravagant lifestyle and shocking behaviour. The Oxford English Dictionary places the phrase in the 1890s as an alliteration of gorblimey and again to James Gordon Bennett Jr.

  • Strike me pink:
    (dated) Used to express astonishment or indignation.
  • Tarnation: U.S.

From darnation, influenced by tarnal (from eternal). [KC – And darn/darnation are euphemisms for damn/damnation.]

Used to express anger, irritation, disappointment, annoyance, contempt, etc.

Okay, we’ll that’s about all I can cover today without getting into some serious trouble with HR!

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

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