Zounds!

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Dr. Goodword
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Zounds!

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:02 pm

• 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!")
• The Good Dr. Goodword

David Myer
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Re: Zounds!

Postby David Myer » Thu Jul 23, 2020 3:53 am

I don't really get it. How can Zounds be a replacement for profanity when its declared origin is 'by God's wounds'? Surely that is profanity as great as any sexual or lavatorial swear word? Its mere development into a euphemism doesn't absolve it, does it? So 'blimey' is OK but 'May God blind me' is not?

Whatever, this had me researching the distinction between profanity and blasphemy. It looks like all blasphemy is profane but not all profanity is blasphemous. Am I right in saying that blasphemy is always sacrilegious but profanity includes the sacrilegious and any other offensive expletive?

Which leads onto the word sacrilegious. Instinct suggests it should be sacreligious since it is religion that is offended. The way it is spelt implies something to do with reading. But it's not of course. Rather 'sacred' and the latin legere, (which one online dictionary says means to take possession of, or steal - although I must say that is a new one on me).

Which leads us to 'religion' and its origins. Even more baffling, I'm afraid.

Perhaps the Good Doctor can make these confusions clear?

damoge
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Re: Zounds!

Postby damoge » Thu Jul 23, 2020 12:37 pm

While we're at it, how did "swear" come to mean both "take an oath" and "take the Lord's name in vain". Opposites, no?
When did "taking the Lord's name in vain" encompass using vulgarisms?
What difference exists between profanities and vulgarisms?

And, Dear Doctor, while I am old enough to take the complimentary comment about my dress in the spirit it was intended, it could get one into a sexual harassment complaint at work (or as a pick up line for that matter) nowadays.

And finally, I always knew "zounds" as a rhyme for "sounds", except that it would have a hard s at both ends.
(pun not intended)

Debby
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Re: Zounds!

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:43 pm

Today, neither blimey or Zounds! have anything to do with God. Speakers--other than Good Word subscribers--today do not think of the origins of the words they use today, only their current perceived usage.
• The Good Dr. Goodword


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