Wednesday, October 26, 2011

For the the (for For the)

“Oh, for the love of Mike!” How often have you heard this expression and wondered about its origins? It’s yet another example of a minced oath—the “semi-technical term for a swearword modified so as to be used without giving offence,” as the Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language defines it. In this exclamation of surprise or impatience, the word “God” is replaced with the euphemistic “Mike.” Or in some cases, “Pete.”

For the the is a high-probability typo, meaning you should expect to find some examples in your catalog. But depending on how your keyword index is configured, you may have to experiment with search strategy. Even limiting to English, if you submit the plain phrase to OhioLINK, it tops out at 32,000 results. Enclose the string in quotation marks, and you get a more manageable 63. Which could still leave you uttering a few choice oaths (minced or otherwise) of your own.

(Profanity from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

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