There is a tendency in traditionally Christian societies (grossly speaking, the West) to leave behind words or expression which allude to such heritage or faith. A familiar example is CE and BCE instead of AD and BC. I'm interested here with the case of "Oh my Gosh", which is used instead of "Oh my God".

Now, according to this answer, the first time this word was used as replacement for God was in the 16th century by Nicholas Udall, who was himself a religious person (at one point he became a vicar, actually). So, although not in its origin, has the use of such word become as an expression of anti-theism? By anti-theism I mean the rejection of theism, not confined to but exemplified by atheism.

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    Possibly a good question for: christianity.stackexchange.com
    – user 66974
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 9:29
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    Some Christians I've known consider "oh my god" to be "taking the Lord's name in vain", which the bible prohibits. So you may find religious people using it for this reason. Also, as you point out, there are people who want to avoid referencing god at all, as a rejection of religion. I have no idea which are more common.
    – AndyT
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 9:50
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    @AndyT I suspect there are more Christian English speakers than English speakers who choose to reject religion to the point of never saying /gad/. (lazy IPA) Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 17:56
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    Is there any evidence of anyone who does this out of an anti-theistic persuasion? I've never met an atheist who avoids the G word on principle and I'd think this would be a very, very unusual view to take.
    – tmgr
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 18:14
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    @tmgr No, I've never heard of an atheist avoiding the word "God" altogether, but certainly there are those who avoid expressions like "Oh my God" since it can be seen as implying a personal belief in God.
    – jkej
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 18:30

1 Answer 1


Quite the reverse. It's an example of a 'minced oath', where a similar-sounding word is substituted for the name of God in an expletive so as to avoid blasphemy. In 19th-century fiction, if a 'bad' character swore it would frequently be written as 'By G-d' or 'D-n you', as swearing was considered so offensive in polite society. Nowadays, I've noticed that some people use religious oaths meaninglessly without caring that they are offensive to believers.

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    I've noticed that some people use religious oaths meaninglessly without caring that they are offensive to believers Many simply don't know that what they're saying causes offence, for them it's simply part of the patios they grew up speaking and would be bemused if told that their mode of expression is offensive to some. Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 15:43
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    There's a sea captain in the operetta HMS Pinafore (1878) who claims as a point of pride that he "never uses a big, big D". Of course, he does say "damn" towards the end, and everyone is shocked. Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 15:53
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    "without caring that they are offensive to believers" They might not be offensive to believers any more though.
    – thosphor
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 16:48
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    I'm an atheist, and in principle I would prefer to avoid using religious-based oaths, simply because they don't make sense given that I don't believe in any religion. However, having grown up in the culture I did, it's basically impossible to do. When I'm frustrated, I say things like, "Oh, Jesus, come on," simply because they're part of the linguistic environment that was programmed into me from an early age.
    – user16723
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 0:50

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