I am utterly repelled by the current, and to my mind tragic, explosion of casual cursing, a continual spew of horrible words so commonplace in all media, and all conversation, that it is nearly impossible to escape them.
These dreadful words are extremely crude and ugly in sound, image, and meaning – sordid references to God, Jesus, mothers, women, body parts and functions, and intimate acts.
I offer instead a vocabulary of the expletives my grandmother Annie B (and other Texas ladies) used – colorful, charming, effective, and inoffensive. I learned them from her and now that I am all grown up, I use them too
When I was a girl, my mother’s mother, Grandmother Annie B, lived with us. She was a tiny lady with a fierce heart and had an abiding devotion to Jesus. I totally adored her, and she was the most significant influence in my early formation, for which I am eternally grateful.
One thing I remember so clearly about her was her colorful language. No foul word EVER fell from her lips. She employed instead a range of expressions guaranteed to bring power to the moment, but offend no one. In her day, no lady EVER cussed, and no man or child would dream of uttering a dirty word in the same room.
Genteel Expletives From My Texas Grandmother
- Dadgummit! I have no idea what this means, but it’s fun to say, and releases a lot of anger and frustration. See how it rolls off the tongue! ‘Course, if you are Texan, all vowels must be drawn out, even made into two. So it’s, “da a aaadgummit!” And if you are really angry, preface it with “Well, just…” All expletives can be soundly strengthened by just adding that. Dropping an egg, going off track with the sewing machine, breaking a glass, spilling food, smashing a finger, a child refusing to come inside…events that mean a mess, work, or pain.
- Dadgum – Her substitute for damn. “Just get in the dadgum bed now!”
- Lordy! She so often called up on the Lord in a tense situation. Variations…Oh Lordy! Repeated, it becomes more expressive, and when we heard her say, “Oh my Lordy, Lordy, Lordy!” we knew there was big problem for sure.
- Oh shoot! This was a favorite.
- Drat! Surely familiar to people today, yet I never hear it. Drat it! Well just drat it!
- Bahodelody! – Buh ho dee loady. I am guessing at the spelling. This was her word for “untrue foolishness,” which today is only described as bs. “Don’t give me a lot of bahodeelody.” Also stands well alone.
- Gosh Almighty! Her way of not “calling the Lord’s name in vain.”
- Thunderation – What in thunderation do you think you are you doing!
- Oh my sweet Jesus! This was rare, and serious, and I knew she had had a shock or was suddenly very upset. This meant get quiet, there was a very adult thing happening.
- Good grief! I heard this one a lot. “Well just good grief! I won’t pay that much!”
- Damnation! This last one belongs exclusively to my father, every bit the old-school, dignified, Texas gentleman, who every great once in awhile, uttered this when he and my mother were in a “heated discussion.” This produced in my mother silence, narrowed eyes and thin lips, and an exit from the room. I knew to head for my bedroom room and lay low.
The ladies in the photo are not my family, but she and they were cast in the same mold. (My grandmother’s photos are not here with me now) You an be certain, ladies of this ilk always conducted themselves with dignity.