Is it Agnes or Maggies?

My wife says “Goodness gracious Maggies!” I was brought up hearing “Goodness gracious Agnes!” She was raised in South Carolina while I grew up in Florida. We don’t know where Agnes and Maggie were raised.

Geography seems to play a role in variations in similar sayings. In the South, I often heard “Bless his (or her) heart” to reference someone prone to inanity. Our friends from Pennsylvania say “God love him (or her)” meaning the same thing.

The more religiously influenced have a variety of sayings. I think the Catholic influence might lead a surprised person to say “Holy Mary mother of God!” which is quite the mouhful. Often, it is shortened to “Holy Mary!” leaving the longer version for more awe-inspiring events.

“Jesus Christ! or the shortened “Jesus!” is uttered when a religious mother is out of earshot. Otherwise, the child might get a look or rebuke. Often, it is shortened to “Jeez,” “Jeepers,” or “Gee whiz,” depending on the generation or religious zeal of the mother.

We can thank Walt Disney for popularizing another replacement with his character “Jiminy Cricket.” Making his name plural makes another saying of surprise. A variation is “Jiminy Christmas” for more exasperating events.

“Dammit,” has long been a shortened version of GD which would have gotten a strong rebuke in my house. The rebuke for Dammit wpuld be less severe. Either phrase reveals disappointment in some failure. I am reminded of Strother Martin’s character in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” The tobacco chewing character would say “Dammit” when his tobacco spittle got on his chin, yelling “bingo” when it did not.

It saddens me to think of the humor of Bill Cosby given his off-stage criminal acts of sexual assault. But, one of his funnier routines was of his father trying to edit his language around his kids. When mad, Cosby said his father could not complete a sentence due to self-censure.

I have shared before the saying of my wonderful ciolleague whose father was a minister. When very frustrated, she would say, “Bad word, bad word.!” Her saying would lighten the moment if others heard her saying it given her temperament.

What are some of your family, friends and region’s sayings? Are they unique to your area or more widespread?

11 thoughts on “Is it Agnes or Maggies?

  1. Well I’ve never heard of Agnes or Maggies, so can’t help you there. My mother-in-law had great expressions. She hailed from the East Coast of Canada. One that we have borrowed is “odd as Tom’s Dog”. Not sure who Tom is, nor how odd his dog was, but this always makes me laugh. My sister and I still say H-E-double hockey sticks, and of course, Sugar, Honey, Ice,Tea. Fun post.

    • VJ, I love your mother’s saying. She will live on with that saying, with great-grandchildren using it. So, Agnes and Maggies aren’t universal. Keith

  2. This is precious, and yes, your comment about Bill Cosby is…yeah, well that whole issue. Do we have to hate the art that came from immoral artists? I fear there’d be precious little art left to love. 😦 I’ve never heard of Agnes or Maggies. My mom swore in German when I was little, so the German phrases that spill easiest from my mouth are “Mein Gott nach mal!” (My God, again.) Or something like this: “You’re room is a Schweinerei!” Your room is a pig’s sty. 😉 There are times in life when nothing will work but a string of swear words. Even if they are wallpapered with flowers, they’re spoken with anger and frustration.

    • Linda, thanks. Maybe I should refer to Cosby as an “infamous comedian” leaving off the name. Cursing in German, to me, means when the frustration rises the native language filter goes first.

      I do curse, but usually it is out of ear shot. This president makes people want to curse more than other. Keith

  3. I had never heard about Agnes or Maggie. And I can’t think of any favorites as we watch so much British television these days and have stolen their favorites — about which I wrote a blog post a few months ago. But it is sad to think that we shouldn’t laugh at Bill Cosby’s humor just because of the kind of man we discovered he was. His humor was some of the best I ever heard!

    • Hugh, I remember that post. As for Cosby, that is a dilemma. I remember the line from Mozart in “Amadeus” which might apply. The actor playing Mozart said “I am a vulgar man, but I assure your my music is not.” That could describe Cosby regarding his comedy. Keith

  4. The UK we have descended into ‘f-bomb’ this and ‘f-bomb’ that. For years I adopted one from America ‘ Heavens t’Betsy’. In my last job, in which I was the only male on a team of eight my comments were literary quotes:
    ‘Oh bother said Pooh’, OR ‘Curiouser and Curiousers, said Alice’
    Along with on which was originated by a British journalist Michael Green in his comic book ‘The Art of Coarse Golfing’, this was written in the mid 1960s when language was more restrained and was to be used when something went wrong with a golf shot… ‘Fornacazoni!’ which he would then claim was an old Italian oath ‘May you grandmother turn into a three-legged pig’
    (These days, in private when we are both at work on our laptops and forcing Word to do as it is required the language would make Marines blush)

    • Roger, great additions. “Heavens ta’ Betsy” is one I have used. I have not quoted Pooh or Alice, although I have quoted other characters in those books and films. Eeyore’s “Nobody cares” comes to mind.

      As for golf, there are an abudance of sayings, many that cannot be repeated. I had a friend who would utter the following after a nice swing, “That was smoother than a prom queen’s thigh.” My wife never cared for that one. Keith

      • I must remember the Eeyore line….
        My late and missed dad was a great DIY craftsman with accompanying language.
        When I was older and he had decided I knew certain ‘words’ he would relate the latest DIY incident in which tools had attacked him or something had gone wrong and he would end the tale by saying:
        ‘So I said to myself: Jim, you really must be more careful next time,’…. you can guess what was actually said.
        Then there is this one from the 1970s British sit-com based ‘It An’t Half Hot Mum’ based around a british army unit in Burma in 1945- one principal character Battery Sergeant Major had this very (funny) unsympathteic catch phrase:

        Which has stuck in our house.

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