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Old 01-14-2001, 12:22 AM
Join Date: Aug 2000
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Curious about this mild expletive (along the lines of "egad" and "drat") which people use from time to time: "criminy" ( spelling may not be correct). Does anyone know the definition and/or root of this word? It doesn't show up in any dictionary I've checked.
Old 01-14-2001, 12:42 AM
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According to the Word Detective:
"Criminy" (which is how most dictionaries spell it) is simply a euphemism for "Christ." Euphemisms, of course, are words designed to act as linguistic fig leaves, disguising (supposedly) or softening the true meaning of the speaker's words in deference to the listener's (again supposedly) refined sensibilities. In practice, euphemisms rarely really fool anyone, although we all play along with the game and dutifully chuckle at a "goldurn" when we might well be offended by a blunt "goddam."

"Criminy" has been around at least since the 1600's, which makes it a charter member of a sub-class of English euphemisms designed to circumvent prohibitions against swearing oaths or taking holy names in vain. Other euphemisms involving substitutes for "Christ" include "cricky," "for chrissakes," "for Pete's sake," and the ever-popular "gee," which is short for "Jesus," as is my "jeepers" above. While we're at it, "gosh," "golly," "good grief" and "great scott" all arose as attempts to sidestep invoking the name "God." There's even evidence to indicate that "doggone" has nothing to do with dogs and everything to do with a garbled attempt to modify "God damn."
Old 01-14-2001, 12:43 AM
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Location: Memphis, TN
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Here's what the word detective said about crimeny

Old 01-14-2001, 01:33 AM
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Location: Oregon
Posts: 2,651
Off the subject:
I think "egad!" is a modification of "ye gods!"

My favorite almost-blasphemous expression has got to be:
's blood!
which is a modification of "God's blood!"
Old 01-14-2001, 01:40 AM
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Or the archaic, "Zounds!", short for God's Wounds.
Old 01-14-2001, 03:44 AM
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Location: West Georgia
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So the word "heck" is a euphie for "hell", right?

Old 01-14-2001, 09:44 AM
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: New York, NY USA
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"By jiminy" is an attempt to not blaspheme Castor and Pollux.
Old 01-14-2001, 12:53 PM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: USA
Posts: 11
Thank you!

Thanks for all of the information. My question has been answered expeditiously and I have no reason to doubt the accuracy! Zounds! You have satisfied a great curiosity.

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