16 Old Verbal Exclamations to Spice Up Your Speech

Bored of saying “Oh my God?” Here are some old-time historical exclamations, or “minced oaths,” as they’re sometimes called, to spice up your daily speech:

1. “By Jove!”

16th-20th century
Like saying “My God!”

2. “I’ll be hanged!”

19th Century

Like saying ‘I’ll be darned!’ OR “I wouldn’t dare’

3. “Heaven’s to Betsy!”

19th century
Shock or surprise. The same as saying ‘Oh my goodness!’ It’s still unknown who ‘Betsy’ is.

4. “Well, I’ll be switched!”

19th century
Expression of amazement, wonder, or befuddlement.

closeup image of man's face with a shocked look on his face, representing historical exclamations post

5. “My giddy aunt!”

Early 20th century
Expressing astonishment, like “my God!”

6. “As I live and breathe!”

17th century
Expressing surprise at encountering someone or something.

7. “Ye gods!”

17th century
Expresses surprise or incredulity, like “Oh my God!”

8. “Fiddlesticks!”

14th century
Expresses disagreement or anger

closeup image of a woman's face with a shocked expression on her face

9. “What ho!”

Early 20th century
A greeting like “Hello!”

10. “Dash it!”

English, unknown origin
The same as “darn it!”

11. “What in the Sam Hill!”

19th century
Or “How in the Sam Hill!” Or basically anytime you’d use “hell”.

12. “Great Caesar’s ghost!”

19th century
The same as saying “Holy cow!”

closeup image of a black man with a hand to his mouth with a surprised look, representing historical exclamations post

13. “Zounds!”

16th century
Shortened from “God’s wounds”. An expression of surprise.

14. “Alack!”

15th century
Expression of surprise

15. “Odds bodkins!”

15th century
Another Expression of surprise

16. “Gadzooks!”

17th century
Shortened from “God’s hooks”. An expression of surprise.

close up image of a woman with a surprised look on her face, representing the historical exclamations post


If you find these old-time historical exclamations interesting, then you may also want to check out some of Mark Twain’s sickest burns!

History Hustle