bejesus

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bejesus

Post by gthroop » Sun Apr 10, 2005 10:55 pm

We are thinking of naming our band "Bejeebus" as in "he scared the bejeebus out of me". What is it's origin?
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Mon Apr 11, 2005 1:13 am

Gretchen, As far as I know there is no such word. The only thing that I can think of is that you have somehow melded together the two words BEJABBERS (early 19th century and still in use) and BEJESUS (late 19th century U.S. and still in use), both mild exclamations meaning literally ‘by Jesus’ and often meant as ‘daylights’ or ‘stuffing’ as in “He scared the bejesus/bejabbers out of me” or ‘hell’ as in “Who the bejesus/bejabbers do you think you’re talking to.”
<1936 “Lemme catch you doin’ this again and I’ll beat the B’JESUS out of you!”—‘Dead End’ by Kingsley, page 734>

<1955 “Who the BE-JESUS told you that?”—‘Brave Cowboy’ by Abbey, page 184>

<1959 “Jesus, it scared the living—BEJABBERS out of me.”—“Killer’s Wedge” by E. Hunter, page 67>

<1980 “Democrats who are still around have had the BEJABBERS scared out of them.”—‘U.S. News & World Report,’ 17 November, page 31>

<1983 “Fella oughta kick the BEJESUS out of a liberal now and then just to stay in shape.”—‘Newsweek, 28 February, page 50>
(Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang)
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Post by Bobinwales » Mon Apr 11, 2005 8:26 am

Good name for a band though, except it could sound like the vehicle that the Brothers Gibb used to travel to gigs. Bee Gee Bus.
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Post by haro » Tue Apr 12, 2005 12:14 am

Didn't they have a 4WD, aka Bee Gee SUV?
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Post by RWalter » Tue Apr 12, 2005 3:34 am

I think the word is closer to "bejebees" as in "You scared the bejebees out of me!" There are lots of google references on this. I have no idea on the origin.
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Apr 12, 2005 4:38 am

Robert, 'Bejebees' comes from the folks who had the HEEBE-JEBEES and had the HEE scared out of them. [see posting heebie-jeebies]
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Apr 12, 2005 4:42 am

I don't think there's any mystery about the origin of this expression, Robert. As Ken has already stated, 'bejabbers', 'bejebees' and 'bejesus' all derive from 'By Jesus!' and are what is known as 'minced [i.e. mealy-mouthed or euphemised] oaths'. These arose at a time when many people regarded it as blasphemous to utter the name of a Christian deity or other venerated figure frivolously.

There are plenty of other minced oaths, some of which have fallen into disuse or are now mainly restricted to certain regions: 'Strewth!' < 'God's truth'; ' 'sblood' < 'God's blood'; '(By) golly!' < '(By) God!'; 'Jeepers creepers!' < 'Jesus Christ!'; 'Criminy!' < 'Christ!'; 'Cripes!' < 'Christ!'; 'Cor [or Gor] blimey!' < 'God blind me!'; 'Lord lumme!' < 'Lord love me!'; 'Holy moly!' < 'Holy Moses!'; 'Heck!' < 'Hell!'.

There are also the intensifiers 'frigging' and 'effing', both of which are minced versions of 'fucking', and are related to the phrase 'effing and blinding' (in other words, uttering the expletives 'fucking' and 'bloody'). (That last example reminds me of a splendid cartoon that appeared in the New Yorker in which a shocked-looking publisher is seen telling a little lady with a sharp nose, a poke bonnet, and a dolly bag who is seated primly before him, "We like the plot, Miss Austen, but all this effing and blinding will have to go.")

All this is similar to the use of asterisks in current usage to indicate missing letters in scatological oaths, e.g.: "What the f**k are you doing here!"; "I always thought you were a stupid c***, and now you've proved it for sure!". Another way to achieve more or less the same result is to refer to 'the F word' or 'the C word'. The word itself is not uttered, but everyone understands the reference.

Finally, if you are interested in seeking more examples and discussion of this topic, I suggest you use this site's search function to search for the phrase "minced oath" in previous postings, as this is not the first time the subject has come up here.
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Post by Bobinwales » Tue Apr 12, 2005 8:10 am

Without going too deeply into the topic, I thought frigging was a euphemism for female masturbation.
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Apr 12, 2005 11:25 am

Yes, it's that too, but that is a separate (though not entirely unrelated) sense of the word.
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