I sought out this site because I need help finding the origins of a word/phrase that my family uses. We are from Southern Maryland, USA. The exclamation in question is 'debygawd.' I do not know how to spell it. I cannot find any version of it on the internet. My mother has provided a sample definition;

Debygawd (pronounced Dee-by-gaud)- word that provides emphasis to any declarative sentence. Usually followed by "captain" but pronounced "cap-en." Used in a sentence - "Debygawd cap-en them crabs is runnin today! Picked up a bushel and a half in the first 30 minutes.'

We are from the Potomac River/Chesapeake Bay area. I would say old maryland families, generally 'waterbillies' use this term. Tangier Island and Smith Island both come to mind as potential originators.


1 Answer 1


It appears 'calls' to God and variations of by God have geen in the English language for centuries:

pur DEE BY God in Shakespeare


pardie, int. (and adv.) and perdie and pardi and pardee OED

  • Now archaic and rare.
  • By God!’ (as an asseveration). Hence: ‘certainly!’, ‘without a doubt!’, ‘indeed!’ Also occasionally as adv.

As in:

  • 1387 Chaucer Canterbury Tales Wel koude he stelen corn and tollen thries, And yet he hadde a thombe of gold, pardee.

1905 A. C. Swinburne Poems III. 134 For all my subtle wiles,
perdie, God wot I loved him well enow.

  • 1930 R. Kipling Miracle of St. Jubanus 7 He was of exemplary
    life. Pardi, he had to be!

The reference found by other members: Indeed, By God appears to be a variation of the same plea/citation to a deity and is specific to the OP's question.

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