Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Good Gravy! - A Look at Whimsical Interjections

Quite some time ago, we dedicated a post to defining word categories such as nouns, verbs, and adjectives. At the time, we made a brief mention of interjections, words that are used to express emotions or sentiments. You might also know them by the name exclamation, which is much simpler to remember since interjections are generally followed by an exclamation point when written.

No matter how familiar you are with the English language, you undoubtedly know several interjections, such as ugh, pardon, ahem, and oops. However, English and most other languages have hundreds of distinct interjections that express a wide range of emotions or can be used in certain situations. Today we thought we'd look at some of the most whimsical and curious interjections that can be found in the English language. Many of these are slang terms, so if you're a non-native speaker wanting to liven up your speech a bit, make sure you know if they're appropriate for the situation first!

Good gravy! - The vast majority of the time that someone says this, they're not talking about delicious gravy on the dinner table. This exclamation and its cousin, good golly, are both euphemisms for good God, which is generally used to express surprise or anger. Depending on your religious views, you might find the use of "Good God!" to be blasphemous, which is why the euphemism golly appeared on the linguistic scene sometime in the 18th century.

At some point, someone clearly decided that the euphemism golly wasn't far enough removed from religious blasphemy, which led to the popular use of good grief, and more recently, the somewhat ridiculous good gravy. I can't tell you why gravy was singled out for this honor, but it is a good thing to have on the dinner table.

Cheese and rice! - In a similar vein, cheese and rice is a euphemism for Jesus Christ, another interjection of surprise frequently considered to be blasphemous. Supposedly, this similar-sounding yet ridiculous term was chosen when a film was edited to be shown on television in the United States. That said, if you're really not worried about offending anyone, you could always go in the opposite direction and say Christ on a cracker instead... but we wouldn't advise it unless you know your audience well.

A beautiful Swan River Daisy, which is native to Australia.
Whoops-a-daisy! - For most English speakers, the natural interjection that is uttered when they make a mistake is either oops or its precursor, whoops, or perhaps the popular uh-oh. However, if you really want to stand out linguistically, you can always go for the lively whoops-a-daisy. Perhaps the cuteness of the term will even make people be nicer to you despite whatever error you've just made!

Bish bash bosh! / Bada bing bada boom! - Both of these terms can be used when you've completed something quickly or easily. Bish bash bosh is most often heard in the UK, while bada bing bada boom is more popular in the United States. The latter term may have originated from Italian Americans, and is most often said on TV and in films by members of the mafia, so if you're in the U.S. you might be better off sticking to an alternative like voila, from the French term voilà.

Fiddlesticks! - When you need to express your annoyance about something, you can always use this handy term instead of a long list of popular expletives.

Cowabunga, dude! - This term is great for those who want to talk like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or simply need a radical or tubular term to express their surprise or amazement at something. Sadly (or maybe not), it has fallen out of favor since its height in the early 1990s.

Did we leave out your favorite whimsical interjection? Let us know in the comments below, and please include information about where and how it's used!