Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cor/Gor



Daniel Jablonski wrote: “I once heard the expression 'Cor Devil' used in vernacular, methinks in the stage play 'Me and My Gal' by the lead male. As you know, the play was set in prewar England, and I have never heard that expression used again before or since. I remember a hint of this with the simple expression 'cor', but again I don’t know where or when. What is the meaning of this 'cor'? I would also like to know if it’s still in common use anywhere, and if there’s some word or expression in 'American' that has a root in this word 'cor'. Is this a really bad cuss word?"

I can't track down "Cor Devil," but I remember a British exclamation that is close. The phrase was "Gor blimey," also rendered as "Cor blimey." It was a minced oath (a euphemism designed to avoid a religious word or expression), and in standard English it would read as, "may God blind me if I am not telling the truth." In short, "God blind me."

In some British dialects—and almost certainly Cockney—God would change into Gord, thence to Gor. The combination "God Devil" certainly seems an odd juxtaposition, though.

In American English, the most common avoidance of the word God is probably Gosh. Golly and Gad are not far behind. There is a difference of opinion on whether such usage is appropriate. Proponents would say that it is a good thing, since it consciously goes out of its way to avoid blasphemy. Opponents—and this is borne out on several religious web sites—argue that minced oaths are just as bad as the original, and should not issue from the mouths of committed Christians. 

The Gor Blimey was also the name of a British service cap in World War I.



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