Zounds (and company). Once popular words that no one uses anymore
Language is a funny old thing. We take it for granted most of the time, but it’s incredible to think that countless people have come to almost the same understanding of what some randomly ordered letters refer to. It’s even stranger when you start looking at things like slang words, or words that were once on the tip of every tongue that no one even remembers anymore. Some of these words need to be brought back. Others need to be forgotten…
«Zounds!» sounds like it was invented just for Scooby Doo, but it wasn’t. According to Merriam-Webster, zounds was first used in 1592, and it was more polite way of saying «God’s wounds.» Uttering that kind of blasphemy was just out of the question, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. People have found all kinds of ways to get their points across without actually blaspheming, and it’s a shame we still don’t use most of these.
The epic ‘sblood dates from around the same time, and refers quite obviously to God’s blood. There’s gadzooks, a 17th-century curse seen as a slightly more polite way to curse by God’s hooks — in other words, the nails used to crucify Christ. There’s strewth, which didn’t show up until the 19th century and until people were cursing God’s truth, and there’s ‘sdeath, an addition the Collins Dictionary says comes from America. Even the Yanks were getting creative in the ways they cursed to God Almighty … while still hoping to fly under the radar and not offend too much.
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