1

I'm looking for a phrase that would mean

I don't give a damn about it

but could be used by a girl in the 1930s. It needs it to be very informal but not vulgar.

  • Around 1930 and then in the '50s was when dont give a damn was more popular. books.google.com/ngrams/… – Kris Sep 20 '18 at 8:32
  • "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."- Gone with the Wind, (1939). Wikipedia has an article on this particular line which explains the Motion Picture Production Code banning the use of the word in films in 1930, and then reversing it in 1939. The way I see it a reason you would ban people from doing something is if they were inclined to do it in the first place (generally true for most laws). My speculation seems to jibe with Kris's graph which shows a relative peak for the term's use starting around 1930. Can't say how vulgar it was and don't know what character you're writing for. – Zebrafish Sep 20 '18 at 12:41
  • The Catholic Church did not like "Gone with the Wind" That line may have been one of the cuts they wanted made. My sainted Mother had to sneak to the next town over to see it unexpurgated when it first came out. – Wayfaring Stranger Sep 20 '18 at 19:36
6

Here are some options (with examples near the 1930s):

Further alternate forms of this are "don't care one X" and "don't care two Xs". I also found one example that mixes things up and "doesn't give a red hoot" (1923).

As you can see, there are essentially two identically-worded snowclones here: one used with "expressions of anger", euphemistic or not (bugger, doggone, curse, cuss, (god)damn, fuck, hang, hoot, mugger, whoop) and one that's used with worthless things ((red) cent, fig, iota, jot, penny, pin, rat's ass/tail, rip, straw, toss, whit). If you follow this format you could even create your own.

  • 2
    You could add 'jot' (orig. 'Iota'), and 'jot or tittle' (King James Biblical) as a couple of the more polite options in your list. I wouldn't want to start a list of my own, yours is so carefully assembled. – Robin Betts Sep 20 '18 at 8:17
  • @RobinBetts Thanks I added "jot", "iota", and "tittle" from your comment. Plus a lot, lot more other ones I just happened to find. – Laurel Sep 20 '18 at 19:50
1

You can probably use “don’t give a damn”, which was already in place in the ‘30s.

(don’t) give a damn:

  • The above phrase was originally I don’t give a dam (yes, the n is missing on purpose) and seems to have been brought back to England by military men traveling to India in the mid 18th century. A dam was an Indian coin of little value. After spreading to civilian usage, the phrase changed to. I don’t give a damn and was first recorded in America in the 1890’s. (word-ancestry.livejournal.com)

A less strong and informal expression which was already used at that time is:

I don’t care:

From The Ladies' Home Journal - Volume 43, Issue 1 - Page 158 - 1926 - ‎

I swell with pride for my boys when I consider the girls they have married. But I do not make demands. I do not suggest that my son's wife call me "mother," unless she wants to. I do not care what she calls me. I do not ask that she say she loves ...

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    My grandmother (b. 1911) who spoke in the idiom of 1930's English polite society, would never have used "don't give a damn". Despite the probable etymology of the 'dam' you have alluded to, she would have thought it rude. – Robin Betts Sep 20 '18 at 8:05
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if you want to be extremely formal and keep to the 1930's you may consider saying simply "I'm apathetic to you/your concern/your being"

If you want to delve into a true anachronism, say if your character is very well read and a fan of classical literature, may I suggest

Edmund Spencer's "Faerie Queen":

‘O! but I feare the fickle freakes,’ quoth shee,

‘Of Fortune false, and oddes of armes in field.’

‘Why, dame,’ quoth he, ‘what oddes can ever bee,

Where both doe fight alike, to win or yield?’

‘Yea, but,’ quoth she, ‘he beares a charmed shield,

And eke enchaunted armes, that none can perce,

Ne none can wound the man, that does them wield.’

‘Charmd or enchaunted,’ answerd he then ferce,

I no whitt reck, ne you the like need to reherce.

the whole thing is a very old English structure, from the mid 1500's

0

There's an informal British expression give a toss:

[Collins]

If you say that you do not give a toss about someone or something, you are emphasizing that you do not care about them at all.

[British, informal, emphasis]
Well, who gives a toss about sophistication anyway? [+ about]
I don't give a toss what people think.
The rest of us really couldn't give a toss; money's what we want.

Depending on who you ask, it could come from the act of tossing a coin. However, others indicate it may actually have a more vulgar connotation.


If that (arguably) more sanitized version of damn doesn't work, then the girl could simply say that she doesn't care a whit about it:

[Merriam-Webster]

: the smallest part or particle imaginable : BIT
// what some people will do for a whit of publicity
—Patrick Quinn
// I care not a whit about what other people think.


Of course, the common phrase is simply I couldn't care less, but it couldn't be considered archaic.

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