• golly •
gah-li • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Interjection
Meaning: An interjection used to indicate surprise or wonder.
Notes: Today's Good Word is a euphemism for God! when used as an exclamation. Words associated with religious figures, profanity, and sexual and excretory organs are often expressed via euphemisms. Usually the euphemism sounds like the word it replaces. Gee and Gee whiz! are euphemisms for Jesus, Gosh is another one for god, and darn replaces damn.
In Play: Today's slightly faded word is often associated with simplemindedness. Gomer Pyle, the simpleminded filling-station attendant played by Jim Nabors in the 1960s TV show, The Andy Griffith Show, used it a lot, but he accented the last syllable and dragged out the first: [gaaah-lee]: "Golly, Andy! You mean the sun doesn't move and the earth goes around it?" There is a common phrase containing golly expressing the determination of the speaker: "By golly, I'll never go out with that Aly Katz again."
Word History: Golly, like gosh, is a euphemism for god. People often point to the similar spellings of god and good and speculate that they are related. They are not. Good goes back to a Proto-Indo-European word ghedh- "to unite, join, fit", from which together also derives. God derives from PIE gheu- "to call, invoke", a word that also produced English giddy. The offspring of this word thrived among the Germanic languages, producing also German Gott, Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish gud, and Dutch god. (Golly! Didn't Joakim Larsson of Sweden suggest a neat Good Word for today?)