• Zounds! •
Pronunciation: zawnz • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Interjection
Meaning: An exclamation of great surprise slightly stronger than Good Grief! Good Heavens! Goodness Gracious Me!
Notes: Today's word has been pronounced [zunz], like wounds (injuries) and [zawnz] but seems to have stabilized on the latter pronunciation. We offer this word in our on-going battle against profanity for it is an authentic, ear-opening substitute for so many offensive expletives you hear today. Try it yourself. Your real friends will be impressed.
In Play: Forget all the terrible things you might say as you pound your thumb with a hammer. "Zounds! That smarts!" in a loud enough voice conveys all that needs to be said. Men: are you seeing a woman whose vocabulary is larger than yours? Impress her tonight with something like this: "Zounds! That is a stunning dress you are wearing!"
Word History: Today's golden oldie of an exclamation is a euphemistic abbreviation of an expletive curse, 'by God's wounds!' There isn't much history of wound available; it turns up only in the Germanic languages (German Wunde, Dutch wond) with pretty much the same meaning. We do know a bit more about god. It seems to go back to a PIE root meaning "to call, invoke", which also resulted in Russian zvat' "to call" (zovu "I call"). But even this derivation produces more problems than insights. Believe it or not, it is completely unrelated to good. (This is not the first word from Larry Brady, the Stargazer of our Agora, that made us say, "Zounds! What a great word!")