59

I'll give an example to help:

Someone suffered a car accident, but physically the person is OK. So I say, "Thank God, he/she is fine."

closed as too broad by tchrist, Mari-Lou A, Fattie, curiousdannii, Drew May 1 '16 at 23:46

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 6
    What are you intending when you say irreligious? Its usual meaning is indifferent or hostile to religion, with a strong flavour of being 'anti-religion'. .And a lot of people who are indifferent or hostile to religion say thank God. My sense is that you are looking for an expression which does not touch upon religion in any way. In other words you are looking for a non-religious term. Am I right? – WS2 Apr 26 '16 at 14:38
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    Is thank goodness not "irreligious" enough for you? – J.R. Apr 26 '16 at 14:49
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    Consider the intention of the expression. For example, "I am sorry" actually means, "I am filled with sorrow" (which can be remorse or sadness). "Thank God" is literally trying to be grateful to someone for a good outcome. Whom should we be grateful to if we believe that there is no one to be grateful to? Perhaps gratitude is the wrong tool for the situation? Happiness fits better, as answers are saying. But it is important to realize the intention so that it can be redirected. – user126158 Apr 26 '16 at 18:37
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    @J.R. "goodness (n.) Old English godnes "goodness, virtue, kindliness;" see good (adj.) + -ness. In exclamations from 1610s as a term of emphasis, first recorded in for goodnesse sake, i.e. "as you trust in the divine goodness" (i.e., God)." - is actually a religious term! – DavidPostill Apr 26 '16 at 22:22
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    My (atheist) friends and I say Thank godlessness as a tongue-in-cheek alternative to the usual phrase. It might offend some religious folks, though. – Era Apr 29 '16 at 17:42

15 Answers 15

78

If you want to express thanks to a "higher power" but want to name it something other than God, (or God-related, like "thank heavens" "praise the lord", "lord have mercy" "hallelujah" etc.) you could say "thank goodness". "Goodness" can mean more than just lucky happenstance in that situation.

If you want to just say that it is fortunate she was not injured, due to nothing more than the particulars of the accident, you could say "thank her lucky stars" or "thankfully, she was not hurt".

I interpret many insurance accident claims phone calls, and I've noticed that most insurance company accident claims processors will avoid faith-based terms by expressing their own relief to know that no one was injured with statements like, "I'm glad to hear no one was hurt," "I'm sorry for your experience, but it's so fortunate that there were no injuries," "what a relief to know everyone is okay."

I agree with many that "thank God" is used ubiquitously, regardless of faith, religion, or spirituality.

  • 44
    I agree with many that "thank God" is used ubiquitously, irregardless of faith, religion, or spirituality. You think that's strange? It's even weirder in Spanish. Due to the long occupation of Spain by the Moors back in the day, all sorts of Arabic loan words ended up in the language. The term ojalá is used in modern parlance to mean "I wish/hope strongly." It doesn't sound even remotely Spanish, because it's taken from Arabic and literally means "I wish to Allah." Amusingly, the word has grown so genericized that it's even found in Spanish Bible translations! – Mason Wheeler Apr 26 '16 at 23:57
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    @PyRulez: "Most religions call their deity God." -- Those that are monotheistic, with a male god, and from an English-speaking country, that is... somewhat limiting the field. – DevSolar Apr 27 '16 at 7:39
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    If you want to discuss the use of irregardless please take it to English Language & Usage Chat. – Matt E. Эллен Apr 27 '16 at 16:14
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    I don't want to discuss it. I just want to roll my eyes at it. – spraff Apr 28 '16 at 11:04
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    Thank god is not used ubiquitously regardless of faith. Many atheists tend to use it less, and some try not to use it at all. – einpoklum Apr 28 '16 at 12:31
53

Thank goodness

I am pleased or happy

The Free Dictionary

  • 6
    "goodness (n.) Old English godnes "goodness, virtue, kindliness;" see good (adj.) + -ness. In exclamations from 1610s as a term of emphasis, first recorded in for goodnesse sake, i.e. "as you trust in the divine goodness" (i.e., God)." - is actually a religious term! – DavidPostill Apr 26 '16 at 22:20
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    @DavidPostill While it originates as a religious expression, its meaning as currently understood is not taken to be religious - to conflate the or original meaning with the present meaning would be the etymological fallacy. Which is to say it was a religious term but is fairly unlikely to be seen as one now, at least by most listeners. – Glen_b Apr 27 '16 at 3:15
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    @Glen_b Yup, but that is also true of the "Thank God"-equivalent where I'm from. Hardly anyone I know is religious at all, and everyone uses "thank God" all the time (in fact, it's the religious ones who don't, since it's kind of a sacrilege :P). The same is true of many other common expressions - most of my friends aren't sailors, but we still greet each other with "Ahoy!" :D – Luaan Apr 27 '16 at 9:22
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    "Goodbye" would also fall under this category – Wayne Werner Apr 27 '16 at 16:03
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    @DavidPostill You don't need to post the same comment on other answers. And what Glen_b said. It might have been religious 400 years ago but it is not viewed that way now. – CJ Dennis Apr 29 '16 at 5:16
36

Depending on the people and setting, this is a favourite vulgar expression of mine...

Thank fuck for that!

Maybe just a British thing?

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    Definitely not simply a Britishism, and it was the first alternative I thought of (and one I often use in lieu of a deitetic reference, myself). – S. G. Apr 26 '16 at 21:48
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    I haven't heard this used. – Andrew Grimm Apr 26 '16 at 21:59
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    Not something your typical American would say. – Rayner Apr 27 '16 at 15:59
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    First thing I thought of. – Matt Lacey Apr 28 '16 at 3:04
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    not exactly non-religious, just thanking a different god – Mauser Apr 28 '16 at 21:38
35

Replacing "thank god" with thankfully should work in all cases. Otherwise:

It's a relief that... / I'm glad that...

  • 1
    I don't think this conveys such the strong meaning though it's certainly not wrong. – Mr. Boy Apr 30 '16 at 13:58
30

You may use the expression:

What a relief to know that you were out of danger!

20

Fortunately

This gives the following sentence:

Fortunately, he/she is fine!

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    Is not Fortuna the name of a Goddess? – René Nyffenegger Apr 27 '16 at 8:37
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    Yep - ancient Roman goddess of chance - also known as "Lady Luck". Still actively worshiped in places such as Las Vegas, Reno, Monte Carlo, etc. Also the name of a secure pseudo-random number generation algorithm, and a genetically modified potato. Seriously. You can't just make this stuff up. :-) – Bob Jarvis Apr 27 '16 at 11:22
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    @RenéNyffenegger ... which just relates to the fact that they did not distinguish between Fortuna, the goddess of luck, and fortuna, the good luck itself. Or between Amor, the god of love, and amor, love itself. Or Sol, the god of Sun, and sol, the Sun itself, ... – Hagen von Eitzen Apr 27 '16 at 20:14
16

Express Happiness, Not Thanks

Many responses say something like "thank the goddess" or "thank goodness" or "thank science". But unless you believe one of these things is a person to whom you owe gratitude, that's nonsense at best and may be taken as mocking those of us who do believe in a higher power. (Which you're free to do, but it wasn't what you asked about.)

Why not say something that expresses happiness rather than thanks?

  • "Happily, she wasn't hurt."
  • "I'm glad to say she wasn't hurt."
  • "You'll be relieved to know she wasn't hurt."
  • 1
    This is my favorite answer posted thus far. In my opinion, expressing gratitude implicitly invokes a higher power by suggesting that your good fortune is the result of conscious action. In other words, why express thanks if no one is there to be thanked? +1. – ApproachingDarknessFish Apr 29 '16 at 4:51
11

You could thank whoever or whatever is actually responsible:

"Hank was struck by lightning, but thanks to the doctors who worked on him, he's going to be okay.

"Lucy was attacked by a velociraptor, but thanks to the quick response of the park rangers, she only suffered minor cuts and scrapes."

"Ben was hit by a bus, but thanks to the fortunate angle at which the bus hit him, he's going to be okay."

  • Much too long, I'd say. – einpoklum Apr 28 '16 at 12:32
  • @einpoklum I appreciate your opinion, but thanks to the variety of the English language, you could shorten these if you wanted. Even if this approach is too long for your context, thanks to the fact that different people have different contexts, maybe this will help somebody else down the road. – Kevin Workman Apr 28 '16 at 13:01
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    Thanks to reading this post I will be ready with a context-appropriate nontheistic response when I am next attacked by a velociraptor. – Lostinfrance Apr 29 '16 at 7:02
6

You could say "thank the laws of physics". (I've never heard anyone actually use this, and may only be funny to World of Warcraft players).

It's an obvious mockery / subversion of the common religious / spiritual phrase, and only works as a joke. (Because science doesn't involve worshipping our current best understanding of how things work). Even as a joke, it also draws attention to the fact that you're avoiding religious language in a really on-the-nose way.

For the love of science is less over-the-top (you can love science), and I have actually said it out loud in real life. It doesn't exactly fits this use-case, though.

  • 1
    from the South Park episode, Go God Go: "Science be praised." – robert bristow-johnson Apr 28 '16 at 2:47
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    @robertbristow-johnson: Yeah, the problem with that and "thank the laws of physics" is that you're obviously trying to subvert / mock the normal religious phrasing, so it only works as a joke. It's less over-the-top with "For the love of science", to my ear. I have actually said that. – Peter Cordes Apr 28 '16 at 3:05
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    i totally agree Peter. i am actually a Christian, but i love South Park and i like mocking both the hard-core creationist Christians and the hard-core atheists like Dawkins, Dennett, Hudson, Hitchens, etc. and South Park was mocking the hard-core Believers in the faith called Materialism with that phrase. – robert bristow-johnson Apr 28 '16 at 4:41
  • I'd like to point out that religious people tend to believe the laws of physics are, necessarily, part of creation as well. If someone gives me a flashlight and I end up needing it, most people would recognize "thankfully I had a flashlight" as an implicit nod to the one who gave it to me. "Thank the laws of physics" would only offend the ignorant religious, not the thoughtful ones. – Asher Apr 30 '16 at 17:53
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    A twist of a line from a Shaw play: "Thank the cannonballs of Gallileo!" – xdhmoore May 1 '16 at 1:44
5

Why is it necessary to say anything at all? It would be like talking to the dice before you throw them. 'How about I'm glad you are alright!'

2

Fritz Lieber, the science fiction author, coined "thank the bonny dew" to which I'm partial.

0

There are also sub-culturally specific answers, thanking whatever omnipotent entity or idea is prominent in their defining literature.

For instance, wiccans would be likely to say "thank the goddess"; avid anime fans might say "thank kami"; a big lovecraft fan could say "thank azathoth"; a mythology lover might say "thank baal"; science fans could say "thank physics"; I even heard someone say "thank frog" once.

In other words, you can use absolutely any expression you want, and as long as it doesn't have a clear other meaning (e.g. "thank obama" might not be taken so well), people will understand it from context.

0

"Thank Goodness". It is intentionally meant to look/sound similar to "Thank God" (ie "God" vs "Goodness"), but as to explicitly not mention "God". This is an example of "minced oath"

A minced oath is a euphemistic expression formed by misspelling, mispronouncing, or replacing a part of a profane, blasphemous, or taboo term to reduce the original term's objectionable characteristics. Some examples include gosh, darn, dang, fudge and heck.

  • hard to spell "good" without the letters g o d. and hard to spell "devil" with out the letters e v i l . – robert bristow-johnson Apr 30 '16 at 3:48
-1

I've always been partial to "Blessed be!", although that's been construed as religious too.

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    It sounds clearly religious to me. Not necessarily Christian, but certainly religious / spiritual / mystical. (Maybe Wiccan) – Peter Cordes Apr 27 '16 at 16:17
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    More a recognition of good from an undescribed higher power. Honestly, this is almost exactly what the question requested, isn't it? – The Nate Apr 27 '16 at 17:14
  • @TheNate no, I the question requested NON-religious expressions and this is just a religious expression of a different flavour. An "undescribed higher power" is still a higher power. – Digital Chris Apr 28 '16 at 16:02
-2

This are few that I like to use.

Oh my Goodness

Yes We/you did it

Oh really

Awesome

Great

Glad to hear that he is OK

  • 1
    I'm a member of every SE site, to work with Smoke Detector. We are alerted to profanity, spam and a few other things from all over SE. So I suggest edits and flag appropriately for the situation. I apologise in advance if my edits are not as thorough as you'd like, as it's just a hit and run clean up job. My interests and contribution are on Stack Overflow. – user163849 Apr 27 '16 at 16:01
  • Don't promote yourself in posts on Stack Exchange Sites. It's against our terms and conditions. – user163849 Apr 27 '16 at 16:01
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    I edited out the spam from this post, it turns out this user has been self promoting in all posts across SE. – user163849 Apr 27 '16 at 16:12
  • @Yvette Off topic, but if you say you're a member of every SE site, I'd expect you to have at least as many communities in your profile as me. – Mr Lister Apr 29 '16 at 7:18
  • @MrLister I'm not active on them, only flag and the occasional edit, Mind you when I check they're showing for me shrug – user163849 Apr 29 '16 at 7:41

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