Gordon Bennett!

Gordon Bennett! is used as an exclamation of surprise or disbelief. According to The Phrase Finder, it first appeared in print as an exclamation in a 1937 novel by James Curtis – You’re in the Racket Too, and is possibly a version of the exclamation Gor blimey!, a euphemistic version of God blind me!.

It is also believed that the exclamation is related to one James Gordon Bennett Jr. (1841-1918), a journalist whose father, also James Gordon Bennett, founded the New York Herald. JGB Jr. was apparently notorious for his wild lifestyle and extravagant spending and newsworthy stunts.

Is Gordon Bennett! used in other English-speaking countries?

Are toned-down versions of oaths, like Gordon Bennett!, used in other languages?

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This entry was posted in English, Language, Words and phrases.

6 Responses to Gordon Bennett!

  1. Laurits says:

    In Finnish it’s common to tone down swear word by changing a few letters.
    For example “helvetti!” (literally hell) could become hemmeti, helkutti or helsvetti among others.

  2. LandTortoise says:

    I am reminded of the Spanish exclamation “hostias” (literally sacred hosts) which is rendered euphemistically as “ostras” (oysters) by those unwilling to transgress conventional taboos of sacrilege.

  3. Froggie says:

    In French, there is “purée” instead of “putain” (literally “whore” but equivalent to Bloody hell”), “faire suer” (sort of “sweat off”) instead of “faire chier” (=shit off, with the meaning of piss somebody off) “mince” instead of “merde” (shit). That’s for contemporary swearing. All (old fashioned) swear words ending in “bleu” are euphemistic for “Dieu” (god), e.g. sacrebleu=sacre/sacré dieu.

  4. Caenwyr says:

    In (Belgian) Dutch there’s a rather ugly swear word “godverdomme” (God be damned), which is often replaced by “potverdomme” (something like “jar be damned”) or even “pot vol blommen” (jar full of flowers) when there’s children around. Same goes for words like “Godverdikke” (>potverdikke / potverdimme). We also use French swearwords, even though they’re spelled differently. One example is nondedju /’non.d@dZu:/ from the French “nom de Dieu” (name of God).

    People that really, really are upset, on the other hand, have the tendency to stick several swear words (not their eufemistic counterparts) together, which might lead to novelty words like “godvernondemiljaardegetaardedju!” MAke sure you learn that one by heart by the next time you meet a Fleming!

  5. Caenwyr says:

    correction: that X-Sampa should have read /non.d@.”dZy:/

  6. Abbie says:

    Vermonter here. “Jeezum crow” is our regional speciality. The origin is pretty obvious.