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BLIMEY

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BLIMEY

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Nov 03, 2012 11:35 pm

• 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.)
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Re: BLIMEY

Postby Slava » Sun Nov 04, 2012 12:53 am

This is a nice one. A euphemism for blasphemy is derived from blasphemy. And...what about euphemism itself?
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Re: BLIMEY

Postby MTC » Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:40 am

Of "blimey" Dr. G states, "It is a corruption of either "Blame me" or "Blind me", probably the former," leaving us to wonder why "blame" is more probable than "blind." Researching the issue online, I found no other authority for the "blame" theory. All opine "blimey" is a corruption of "blind me!" None even mentions "blame." Of course, the majority position can be incorrect, and the minority correct. Take the majority "flat earth" position, for instance. That said, and while not posturing as an expert myself, I think the "bli" in "blind" sounds more like the "bli" in "blimey" than does the "bla" in "blame." Wouldn't the contraction of "blind" and "me" follow the path of least phonetic resistance to "blimey?" Whereas, following the same phonetic path the contraction of "blame" and "me" would be "blamey," not "blimey." But we have no "blamey," only "blimey."

Mixing the sweet with the bitter, I did find something more agreeable to share in my research--"minced oaths," a particular type of euphemism which "blimey" is but one example. Others include "zounds," "cripes," and the folksy "dangnabbit." For a more extensive list and a full discussion see (http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/minced-oath.html) Bon appetit!
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Re: BLIMEY

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 12:54 pm

Thanks for that list MTC, it is most interesting, and had
seen it before, but misplaced. Glad to have it back again.
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Re: BLIMEY

Postby MTC » Sun Nov 04, 2012 1:39 pm

"Lose something and it will come back to you," the saying goes.
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Re: BLIMEY

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 1:45 pm

Sorta like "Karma"?
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Re: BLIMEY

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:20 pm

Having been a part time Brit in my salad days, I got to know the slang of England quite well. Twee is new but blimey is not. Some of it is just a load of baloney.
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Re: BLIMEY

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:19 pm

Perhaps the difference is the American/British experiences. Like the Doc, I remember "dadblameit" from years ago and never heard "blind me," though I may have read it in English novels. And speaking of British cusswords, why is "bloody" so bloody awful in England? To me, it may or may not be a little worse than "darn."
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Re: BLIMEY

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:15 pm

Bloody, in English slang, does not have anything to do with blood. Etymonline.com's doubts to the contrary notwithstanding, bloody is a contraction of "by our Lady," just as zounds is a contraction of "by God's wounds." Etymonline and I agree on this later one. Note that a thorough search of "bloody" yields many contradictory origins and some who refuse to speculate. Some of the origins seem ridiculous to me, but there is no real proof one way or another. As with most of these mild swear words, they are best left unsaid. My teachers and my mother would not allow me to say "Aw shucks!" My dad's only swear word was "Prunes!"
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Re: BLIMEY

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:35 pm

Etymology aside, I have the distinct impression that "bloody" was among the worst swear words in Britain. How about it, Englanders? What say you?
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Re: BLIMEY

Postby David McWethy » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:50 am

For what it's worth, I'd always heard, or thought (or thought I heard) that "blimey" was a contraction of a phrase that was not only first found in the British vocabulary, but got started in the days when "...Britannia ruled the waves"; that is: It's a truncated version of "Blow me" with the unspoken but implied "down" as a suffix.

If one remembers that a limey (another word which began as a British colloquialism) would pronounce "blimey" as if it were spelled "bloimey", it's a very short grammatical hop to see how closely that pronunciation sounds like "blow me".

To sailors of any country, a wind strong enough to "blow me down"—could refer to a gale that was forceful enough to cause a sailing vessel to sink—or might also be used to describe any occasion or event that would leave one taken aback, left agog, or just plain flabbergasted to the point of not knowing whether to spit or stack BBs.

But I could be wrong....
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Re: BLIMEY

Postby call_copse » Mon Nov 05, 2012 8:02 am

If you are really interested you can find the relative offensiveness of any profanity in the British English vocabulary here (NSFW, unless, like mine your workplace, does not care of course!):
http://bit.ly/433UHV

If you don't wish to follow the link, 'bloody' comes in a lowly 27th - behind 'crap'. It is included without comment in children's films e.g. Harry Potter these days. Blimey is not in the list above as it is only something that would be used in an ironically retro manner as far as I know - it is second world war era slang, maybe occasionally used when wishing to sound like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins 'Gor Blimey Guv'nor - luvaduck!' one might say.

My understanding of bloody was something to do with holy blood of the Virgin Mary or some such - never heard the 'by our lady' explanation, which seems implausible from here.
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Re: BLIMEY

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:32 pm

Fascinating list! Thanks. I suspect everyone would rearrange it from our own experience. Comment #14 re swear in a foreign language resonated with me. Since I do some Spanish, i created an expression: mil diablos! Esta no me gusta ni un poquito! Not a swear word in it, but I find it very satisfying, and everyone around me is sure I'm saying the unspeakable. I hear Arabic may be the best lingo to swear in, but I don't do Arabic. The multiple choice of letters did me in, tho I did try a tape for awhile.
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Re: BLIMEY

Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:35 pm

mil diablos! Esta no me gusta ni un poquito



Very creative!
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Re: BLIMEY

Postby MTC » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:33 pm

Yes, and very "punny" too for the mathematically minded: "thousand devils! I do not like this one bit."

My bowdlerizing spell checker changes "Spanish curses" to "Spanish courses." Where is the First Amendment when we need it? Pendejo!
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