• egad •
Pronunciation: ee-gæd • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Interjection
Meaning: An interjection demonstrating surprise, gosh, by gosh, zounds.
Notes: Today's Good Word often appears in the plural, egads. This word is a rare bird that pretty much went out of fashion at the end of the 19th century. Yet, it persisted through the 20th century, and when we read the literature of the 19th and 20th centuries, we are bound to meet it.
In Play: I have the sense that this word is more often used in the plural: "Egads! Not you again! I thought I made my position clear yesterday when I punched you on the nose!" But the Oxford English Dictionary doesn't offer a single example in the plural: "Egad! Did you see what Maud Lynn Dresser wore to the Christmas ball?"
Word History: Today's Good Word occasionally appeared as egod, making it clear it is a euphemism. The first component could have been anything: ye gods, the gods, by God. The second component is clearly a euphemism for God. Religious oaths are frequently replaced by euphemisms: gosh and golly replace God, and gee and gee whiz replace Jesus. Other oaths are often replaced by euphemisms: darn for damn and heck for hell. We have recently discussed all we know about the word god, so we needn't mention it again. (Egads! Edward Sizemore thought that since we recently sent out zounds, we might complete a survey of obscure oaths, perhaps encouraging their replacement of the more distasteful ones we encounter today.)