0

I have several quotes of late-19th-century speech (by British men) which use the abbreviation "d-d" for a word. I'm not sure what it means, but from the context I assume this is profanity of some sort.

Here's an example:

It was you brought me up this d-d hill.

Any ideas?

  • 7
    It means damned. That profanity was considered unfit to print at the time. Now, I’ve got one for you: what does J-J mean? :) – Dan Bron Dec 19 '18 at 15:29
  • Thanks, I considered this but wasn't sure since the author wrote out "damned" on another occasion un-abbreviated. Could you perhaps reference a case where this abbreviation is used? – J-J Dec 19 '18 at 15:31
  • @DanBron, it's an abbreviation of my name, not a swear word ;) – J-J Dec 19 '18 at 15:33
  • 1
    Thing is, it’s not an abbreviation, it’s a redaction. 19th C authors were big on redaction (believe they thought it lent an air of authenticity). So you’re not going to find this spelled out in any dictionary, and any examples I can show you will have the same problem you currently have with your examples: the word is intentionally redacted, so we’re left to infer what it means from context. It’s not like the author is going to redact it and then leave a footnote saying “by this, I meant damned”. So what kind of material do you think would be helpful to you if I could find it? – Dan Bron Dec 19 '18 at 15:34
  • 1
    Probably from: G#dd@mn. This swear word (which is normally used to express disgust) can be offensive to those with religious backgrounds (since it's seen as saying the Lord's name in vain). – user240918 Dec 19 '18 at 15:37
3

The word here really is “damned”. The OED, in an entry that seems to have been written in 1894 and not been updated since then, has this definition of the word:

Used profanely as a strong expression of reprehension or dislike, or as a mere intensive. Now usually printed ‘d——d’.

This was a pretty common way for vulgar words to be censored in the 1800s. You will also see “c—t” (cunt) and “b——y” (bloody).

3

Turning Dan Bron's comments into an answer:

It means damned. That profanity was considered unfit to print at the time.

This is very plausible to me, but there doesn't appear to be a written source for it. We might be unlikely to find one:

It’s not an abbreviation, it’s a redaction. 19th C authors were big on redaction (believe they thought it lent an air of authenticity). So you’re not going to find this spelled out in any dictionary, and any examples I can show you will have the same problem you currently have with your examples: the word is intentionally redacted, so we’re left to infer what it means from context. It’s not like the author is going to redact it and then leave a footnote saying “by this, I meant damned”.

I would imagine that someone probably documented this at some point (maybe in a 19th C style manual), but one would be hard-pressed to find it.

  • 1
    It occurs to me that the euphemism "dash", as in "dash it all", may have been a winking reference to the written 'd--m'. – user888379 Dec 19 '18 at 16:21
  • 1
    @user888379 I think the more literal "You may as well dash it all against the rocks and destroy it" is a more likely interpretation. – jejorda2 Dec 19 '18 at 16:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.