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Where did the term "doggone it" come from?

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From Etymonline:

doggone 1851, Amer.Eng., a "fantastic perversion of god-damned" [Weekley]. But Mencken favors the theory that it is "a blend form of dog on it; in fact it is still often used with it following. It is thus a brother to the old English phrase, 'a pox upon it,' but is considerably more decorous."

Others have it derived from the Scottish dagone, or "gone to the dogs," but there's a bit of debate about that.

From my own search, I found several pre-1851 uses. It looks like it may have first appeared in print in a British publication, albeit of an American vernacular dialog, in Adventures in Mexico and the Rocky Mountains by British explorer George Ruxton, 1847 (date check):

http://books.google.com/books?id=YX1NAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=snippet&q=goddam&f=false

It subsequently appeard three times in 1848 in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, in articles written by Ruxton while living in America.

  • 3
    I think given related oaths such as dang, dagnab it, dratted, tarnation, etc., we can safely take it they're all basically eupemistic / bowlderised variations on [god-]damned. – FumbleFingers May 2 '11 at 1:19
  • "dog on it"... my first thought was "and what are dogs infamous for? Exactly, shitting everywhere", which would make "dog on it" a synonym of "shit on it". Which is probably not really English, but I'm prone to say it (to myself) as a not-really-translation of "Scheiss drauf" ;-) That's my story and I'm sticking to it (like that dog-stuff to a shoe ;-) – Jürgen A. Erhard May 2 '11 at 6:48
  • I think the association of dogs with shitting is a rather modern one; previous centuries didn't have quite the same fastidiousness as we have today. – Colin Fine May 2 '11 at 11:49
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One possible route to doggone would be God damn -> God darn -> doggarn -> doggone. The earliest I could find a reference to dog garn is in the play Ossawattomie Brown, or The Insurrection at Harper's Ferry, by Mrs. J. C. Swayze (1859) reprinted here. There are also a few Google books hit for doggarn in the 1870's and 1880's. I think this is fairly good evidence for the derivation through doggarn.

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As reported by the NOAD, the origin of the word is early 19th century, probably from dog on it, euphemism for God damn it.

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perhaps from the Scotch "dagone," gone to the dogs, or maybe an alteration of G*ddamn, 1851; doggoned, 1857.

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