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Hello and happy holidays.

While reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, I came across the expression "consound it" in Huck's dialogue parts.

"Consound it, Tom Sawyer, you're just old pie, 'longside o' what I am."

"Then consound it, we've fooled away all this work for nothing."

Does anyone know what it means? I am guessing by context that it works as an interjection and it means "quit it", "give it up" or something. Thanks in advance!

  • It means you are reading a badly digitised ebook probably. Should be "confound it". google books link – Martin Smith Dec 25 '14 at 19:40
  • @Martin: No it shouldn't. The original has "consound it". – Peter Shor Dec 25 '14 at 19:51
  • @MartinSmith A 1917 edition in Harvard College Library definitely has "Consound it" printed. That doesn't mean that other editions have not "corrected" it, though. – Andrew Leach Dec 25 '14 at 19:53
  • Ah Ok I stand corrected! – Martin Smith Dec 25 '14 at 19:58
  • It's been about 30 years since I last read much Twain, but I recall that you're apt to run across a broad array of twisted words and constructions in his work. Hard to say how many Twain had actually heard and how many he invented. – Hot Licks Dec 26 '14 at 15:07
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"Consound it" means the same thing as "confound it".

My guess is that the interjection "confound it" was thought to be too strong in Hannibal, Missouri, at the time of Mark Twain's childhood. So people changed the pronunciation slightly to avoid using "bad words". (I don't see anything objectionable in "confound it", but maybe it was perceived as a euphemism for "damn it" that was somehow too close to the original.)

When Mark Twain was editing his original draft of Huckleberry Finn, he changed at least one instance of "consound it" to "confound it". See this link. Tom Sawyer contains both "confound it" and "consound it".

  • 2
    Conſound it all! – tchrist Dec 25 '14 at 20:18
  • 1
    @tchrist - Hey!! Watch your language!! – Hot Licks Dec 26 '14 at 15:05
  • Ah, those minced oaths. Thank you very much for the link! – lenakmeth Dec 26 '14 at 18:47
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Consound it, concern it and consarn it are all minced oaths for confound it, which is itself a minced oath for damn it, in turn arguably a minced oath for God damn it.

3

I think it is just a general interjection ... used in place of a profanity that "polite society" would disapprove.

My father used to say, "Confound it".

  • Thank you for your help! (And thanks for the natural speaker reference, it's helpful since I'm not one.) – lenakmeth Dec 26 '14 at 18:50

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