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?"
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."
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.
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
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