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The word 'gosh'

722 of 1169 nominations


The word 'gosh'

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The word 'gosh'

A word from a more innocent age, an exclamation of surprise we might associate with Enid Blyton heroines upon spotting a clue, or as an understated oath from a stiff-upper-lipped young man caught in yet another scrape. The word “gosh” quite simply means “God”: an oath for those too well-brought-up or religiously observant for more full-blooded swearing.

The word’s first appearance in English is reported by the Oxford English Dictionary in 1757, and by 1804 CK Sharpe is quoted as calling it “the most elegant and classical oath imaginable”. Achieving its full potential only when paired with other words such as “my”, “by” and “darned” (favoured by our American cousins), it reaches its apotheosis in the expression “gosh-awful.” It is only fitting for the immortal PG Wodehouse to have the last word: “That subtle gosh-awfulness which renders...my Aunt Agatha the curse of the Home Counties.” (Right Ho, Jeeves, 1934)


Your comments

Could any expression be more obviously English? The feeblest and politest way of registering anything from mild surprise to total horror.

Stephen Lee

This quintessential exclamation taking a few milliseconds of breath - instantly evokes Englishness.
Dr S Kant



My favourite Icon of England has to be the Cornish Pasty.

Ian Baldry