• blimey •
Pronunciation: blai-mee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Interjection
Meaning: (Slang) An interjection indicating surprise or an emphatic interjection.
Notes: Today's Good Word is a Briticism not used on this side of the Atlantic. As with all interjections, this one is a lexical orphan. However, it has a variant, gorblimey, a "gutter phrase", as J. R. Ware called it in Passing England (1909).
In Play: You may use this interjection no matter how low-level the surprise: "Blimey! I can't dance; I have two left feet!" Just remember, Americans, it is slang, so use it only when slang is appropriate: "Blimey, it's so cold outsite my moustache froze solid! It's a good thing I had a pint before leaving the pub: now, when it thaws out, I'll get another little nip."
Word History: Today's word is the responsibility of the British, though the Australians have perpetuated it. It is a corruption of either "Blame me" or "Blind me", probably the former. I can remember where "blame it!" and "Dad blame it" were euphemisms for "damn it" down South, so blame seems to be the preferable word for interjections. Blame is a borrowing from French blâmer "to rebuke, criticize", inherited from Vulgar (street) Latin blastemare, an assumed middle stage of Late Latin blasphemare "revile, reproach". Latin borrowed this word from Greek blasphemein "to speak impiously of, to slander", the source of English blaspheme. The root of this word, pheme "utterance", is related to fame, but also to two linguistic terms: phoneme "the smallest unit of linguistic sound", and morpheme "the smallest unit of linguistic sound with meaning". (Blimey, today's Good Word was suggested by our old friend, solicitor Susan Liddy-Gates.)