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When my friend found out that the new season of Rick and Morty is going to be released this year, he yelled in excitement:

Holy fucking Rick!

This is not a valid (ie. grammatically correct) replacement for the phrase "Holy Shit."

It made me think:

What words could replace "shit" in this slang, without changing its meaning?

For example, I know that we can use these:

  • Holy Fuck

    An exclamation, much like "Holy Shit!", but more offensive, which is good.

  • Holy Moly

    a term often used instead of and meaning "holy shit" either by a young person in front of *their parents to avoid getting an ass whooping or by a young person in front of peers as a term of surprise, shock.

Now, "fuck" and "moly" are both nouns here. But we can't use every other noun as a replacement for the word "shit" to indicate surprise!

So my question is, given a phrase like this, how can I validate it to see if it's a correct replacement of "holy shit"? What words are acceptable here? How I can prove to my friend that what he said doesn't make sense?

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    What's wrong with "Holy fucking Rick"? People say "Holy fucking Jesus" all the time. – Laurel May 16 at 2:24
  • @Laurel I think that's because "Jesus" alone can indicate surprise, but "Rick" doesn't. – AmirAShabani May 16 at 2:28
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    What does "~~~~~" mean in your first example? Is that a slot to fill? – Mitch May 16 at 16:34
  • @Mitch It's a modified version of this (*_*) emoticon (meaning 😍 or Amazed.) It's useless information, but since I was quoting, I thought I include it. – AmirAShabani May 16 at 17:46
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    @AmirAShabani I don't even recognize the unmodified one. There's already punctuation that everyone knows that accounts for that emotion, the exclamation point. – Mitch May 16 at 18:30
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I see no problem with "holy fucking Rick". Really, any noun or noun phrase can be used in this expression. It's a snowclone.

"Holy astringent plum-like fruit!" Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show always had some crazy variation on the phrase. It's so iconic that Robin has continued to say lines like these ever since. (See this video of clips from The New Adventures of Batman for example.)

You'll see similar elsewhere, even when it's not a parody of campy Robin. For example, here are some examples from Google Books:

See also the Wikipedia page for this expression.

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    +1 for the Robin link alone. – Jim May 16 at 5:05
  • I see, thank you. BTW, the video was hard but fun to watch. – AmirAShabani May 16 at 14:13

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