Jeepers!

While listening to Raidió na Gaeltachta (Irish language radio) today I noticed much use of the word “Jeepers!“. It’s not a word I’ve heard much before so it caught my attention.

According to the Free Dictionary, jeepers is used to express surprise or annoyance and is a euphemism for Jesus. A variation on this, “Jeepers creepers!”, is apparently used mainly in the USA and Canada. Another related expression is “Jeez!”.

Do you use any of these words? If not, what (non swear) words do you use to express surprise or annoyance?

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This entry was posted in English, Irish, Language.

17 Responses to Jeepers!

  1. Christopher says:

    In the US, “jeepers” is very old fashioned. You’ll occasionally hear it, but it will be a personal idiosyncrasy. “Jeez” is much more common, and I use it probably with some regularity.

  2. Heike says:

    My mom used a great word in German that I’ve adopted, only because I find it amusing: Scheibenkleister, which directly translates as “window putty”. I also use a French one I got from a host mom when living in France: flûte à la fin! Other common English ones are crap; man…

  3. Stan says:

    The related minced oath Japers is also quite common in Irish English speech, as is Janey (Mac).

  4. Declan says:

    I’m surprised you heard it on Raidio na Gaeltachta though, it’s not really common anymore, certainly not around me, and certainly not in Irish.

  5. Syntax says:

    Jayzus is what is common in my speech.

  6. Vijay John says:

    I believe I have actually used “Geez” on this blog (with a G, not a J; that’s how I always spell it). I don’t know whether I ever actually use “jeepers,” but it sounds so familiar to me that when I saw the title of this post, I assumed that Simon was genuinely frustrated with something! I have lived in the US my whole life and am in my mid-twenties (not so old!).

    I’ve never heard “Japers,” “Janey,” “Janey Mac,” or “Jayzus.” “Flûte à la fin” is a new one, too. (“Scheibenkleister” sounds vaguely familiar).

  7. Mark says:

    Did you manage never to watch Scooby Doo while growing up? “Jeepers” was Daphne’s catchphrase (“Zoinks” for Shaggy, “Jinkies” for Velma).

    There is a recent animated children’s series set in 1950s Ireland called “Jakers”, that being another old-fashioned substitution for Jesus; the word (and the aforementioned ‘Janey Mac’) are used in it quite often. Easy way to give the show an old-fashioned feel (and include ‘naughty’ words for the kids).

  8. D.Jay says:

    Also in this vein would be cripes, dang and gosh darn, for Christ, damn and God damn.

  9. Simon says:

    Mark – yes, I’m familiar with Scooby Doo, and was trying to think were I might have heard Jeepers before. Now I know.

  10. Jim M. says:

    Jeepers is certainly old-fashioned but is still recognized, perhaps due to the evergreen song “Jeepers creepers, where’d you get those peepers?” “Holy mackerel” is an equivalent I use—not sure whether that’s regional (I’m U.S. Midwest, with a New York-born father).

  11. Vijay John says:

    That song sounds only vaguely familiar to me. I’ve definitely seen/heard “jeepers” being actually used elsewhere. (Maybe that’s because I have a lot of Uncle Scrooge/Donald comics and my brother and I used to watch Ducktales, where Huey, Dewey, and Louie seem to use that expression fairly often).

    “Holy mackerel” is an expression that I personally find pretty much as familiar as “jeepers” – that is to say, very familiar and recognizable, but not one that I would use much (or maybe even at all).

  12. Matthew says:

    Jeepers is quite common in Australia. Well, maybe not the most favourable word these days, but it has definitely been around.

  13. GeoffB says:

    I grew up in the Midwest. Apart from Scooby Doo and Jeepers creepers, I don’t think I’ve heard Jeepers used other than mockingly or ironically. Our preferred Jesus-derived expression was the simple Geez earlier mentioned. Also common for the kids were darn, heck and shoot.

  14. Andrew says:

    “jeepers” is a very old-fashioned American word most frequently seen in the form “jeepers creepers!”. Typically anymore it’s used ironically to express mocking surprise rather than to express genuine surprise.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  15. Vijay John says:

    Sorry, guys, I really have heard “jeepers” in non-sarcastic contexts. In fact, I can’t even think of a time when I heard it being used sarcastically. It really doesn’t sound so old-fashioned to me.

  16. David Eger says:

    I’ve heard “Jeanie (or Genie) Mac” from my friend’s kids in the West of Ireland. I suppose this corresponds to the pronunciation of ‘Jesus’ as ‘Jaysus’, ‘tea’ as ‘tay’ etc., the latter being less common in those areas that were more recently Gaelic speaking.

  17. Edmund Yong says:

    In Chinese we use ‘天啊!’ literally means ‘oh sky’. same use with ‘Oh my god’ in english

    A Malaysian Chinese , like me, also use ‘walao’. I don’t know the literal meaning and I think it’s from Taiwanese/Hokkien.