Recently, I wrote a post explaining why I no longer “bless”people when they sneeze. I’ve been thinking about all the other nonsensical phrases I say every day that are at odds with my (lack of) beliefs: “Damn,” “Go to Hell,” “Thank god,” “Oh, my god,” “Jesus Christ,” and “Holy crap,” to name a few. Man, we sure do take The Lord’s name in vain a lot here in America, don’t we? It’s amazing; given that so many Republicans would have you believe this is a Christian nation. Let’s try to come up with some replacements, shall we?
AKA “Damn it,” Dammit,” “Damn it all to hell”
Actual meaning: “I want this thing to go to the core of the Earth, where a red man with horns and the hind legs of a goat will poke it with a pitchfork forever and ever.”
Colloquial meaning: “I am distraught about this object or situation, and I do not wish it well.”
Replacement: “Boo!” It doesn’t get much simpler than that. “Boo” has worked for us since the 15th century, and it has the added bonus of being acceptable for use around children.
Go to Hell
AKA “I’ll see you in hell!” (for serious drama queens only)
Actual meaning: “I want you to go to the core of the Earth, where a red man with horns and the hind legs of a goat will poke you with a pitchfork forever and ever.”
Colloquial meaning: “I really don’t like you at all, and I do not wish you well.”
Replacement: “You are a terrible person.” This is one of my favorite insults, because it’s so simple, yet so severe. The gold standard would be if the person you’re directing this towards is close to you, and you intend to be not close to them ever again: “I hate my life because you’re in it.” I used this once, on a boyfriend, as a means of breaking up with him, and to this day, I contend that it is the most scathing phrase one human being has ever said to another. Use this only under extreme circumstances.
AKA “Thank goodness,” “Thank the lord”
Actual meaning: “There is a giant man in the clouds who bestowed this situation upon us, and I am grateful.”
Colloquial meaning: “This is very fortunate.”
Replacement: “Hooray!” Another word that has served us well for hundreds of years, “hooray” perfectly sums up joy. “Hooray for your pap smear coming back normal, Joan!” “Hooray, we weren’t home when the levees broke!” No matter how glad you are that circumstances worked out in your favor, “hooray” has got you covered.
Oh, my god
AKA “Oh, my lord,” “Oh, my gosh,” “Oh, my goodness,” “OMG,” OMFG,” “Ermahgerd”
Actual meaning: You know, I tried really hard for, like, half an hour… and I’m still not sure. Maybe you’re talking to your god? Maybe you’re making a promise, and if you’re lying, you’re inviting your god to smite you? I don’t know. Sorry.
Colloquial meaning: “This shit is redonkulous.”
Replacement: “Wow.” Half a millennium ago, a Scotsman summed it up just fine. I say we carry on his fine tradition.
AKA “Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” “Jesus H. Christ,” “Jesus H. Christ on a cracker”
Actual meaning: As far as I can tell, it’s to summon Jesus to help you, kind of like saying “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!”
Colloquial meaning: “I am shocked and/or appalled!”
Replacement: I think I’m gonna go with “ACK!” à la Cathy. Maybe with sweat/teardrops squirting from the sides of my head. Then I get to eat an entire chocolate cake, right?
AKA “Holy shit,” “Holy hell,” “Holy cow,” “Holy moly,” “Holy guacamole”
Actual meaning: Maybe Jesus’ poo? I’m not sure. The Internet says that “holy” has been used “as an intensifying word” since 1837, and used in expletives since 1883. Nobody knows why.
Colloquial meaning: “Wow”
Replacement: Well, we’ve already replaced OMG with “Wow”… do we need a different word to replace “Holy crap”? Is there a reason why “Wow” was split in two in the first place? Can you suggest something better?
I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments. Did I leave anything out?