Printable Version
Pronunciation: gæd-zuks Hear it!

Part of Speech: Interjection

Meaning: An exclamation of surprise or alarm, a mild swearword, approximate equivalent to Great Scott!

Notes: Most dictionaries claim this word is archaic or obsolete, but the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) provides a 2017 citation. As an interjection, it remains a lexical orphan. Gadzookers is a playful synonym.

In Play: The Ottawa Sun on January 6, 2017, contained these exclamations: "Bloody Hell, Your Majesty, I nearly shot you. Gadzooks, that was close." Which proves that it is still alive in many if not most vocabularies: "Gadzooks! You are a divine apparition in that gown!"

Word History: The origin of today's Good Word is listed as originally a euphemism for the phrase "God's hooks" in most dictionaries in reference to the nails in Christ's hands on the cross. Most etymologists would disagree since Jesus was not God and nails are not hooks, and no phrase 'God's hooks' has ever been attested. That leaves the issue open to wild speculation. The OED refers to an old exclamation "God's-sokinges "God's sockings", from the verb sock, used historically as an emphatic modifier. I would like to propose that it comes from the unattested phrase 'God's sooth". Odd things happen in creating euphemistic interjections. The shift from TH to KS in this derivation is much less than the shift in Jesus to Gee Whiz or God-damned to gol darned. The origin of god is just as mystifying. (Gratitude today is due Jackson Hill, internationally acclaimed composer and professor emeritus at Bucknell, for challenging me with today's mystifying Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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