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An exclamation to avoid

Topics/tags: Miscellaneous, language, short

I recently wrote about language use. In that musing, I forgot to mention a phrase that I keep asking students to (re-)consider, jeez. Whenever I hear students say that, I tend to respond, Please don’t take your Lord’s name (or someone’s Lord’s name) in vain. After all, that seems to be the epitome of swearing [1] and I prefer that my students avoid using profanity in my classroom.

Whenever I say that students say, It’s just a word; it doesn’t mean anything. I find that a strange response; after all, aren’t words supposed to mean something? They wouldn’t hurt if they didn’t.

Let’s consider the word they use. When I look in Merriam-Webster online, I see that its origin is as a euphemism for Jesus. And when I check the online OED [2], it says its origin is 1920s: abbreviation of Jesus.

In this case, it doesn’t matter what you think you’re saying, you are using the name of someone many consider to be G-d in a non-prayerful way. It may not bother you, but it’s likely to bother someone.

Please find another exclamation.

Followup: Friends suggested enough words of this form that I accept defeat. I will not forbid my students from using of Jeez (or Geez).

[1] Let’s see … when we use swear in this way, we mean to use obscene or profane language. Merriam-Webster says that profane means to treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contempt.

[2] OED is the way elitist or abbreviated people refer to the Oxford English Dictionary [3].

[3] The OED also feels a bit elitist, but not the least bit abbreviated. Even the abridged version is gigantic.

Version 1.0 released 2018-05-28.

Version 1.1 of 2018-05-29.