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Folklore: meaning and origin of o my giddy aunt

The Sandman 13 Apr 09 - 04:35 AM
GUEST,scorpio 13 Apr 09 - 04:57 AM
Emma B 13 Apr 09 - 05:20 AM
Valmai Goodyear 13 Apr 09 - 05:25 AM
Jack Blandiver 13 Apr 09 - 05:29 AM
Dave the Gnome 13 Apr 09 - 09:38 AM
Snuffy 13 Apr 09 - 09:53 AM
WalkaboutsVerse 13 Apr 09 - 12:42 PM
Paul Burke 13 Apr 09 - 12:49 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Apr 09 - 06:21 PM
Snuffy 13 Apr 09 - 06:30 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Apr 09 - 07:58 PM
Dave the Gnome 14 Apr 09 - 10:42 AM
GUEST,Gillian 02 Feb 11 - 07:58 AM
MGM·Lion 02 Feb 11 - 08:31 AM
GUEST,PeterC 02 Feb 11 - 09:10 AM
GUEST,leeneia 02 Feb 11 - 11:53 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Feb 11 - 02:15 PM
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Subject: meaning and origin of o my giddy aunt
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Apr 09 - 04:35 AM

this phrase is a way of expressing surprise,when used it is not a way of personally attacking anyone.
anyone know its origins?


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Subject: RE: meaning and origin of o my giddy aunt
From: GUEST,scorpio
Date: 13 Apr 09 - 04:57 AM

In common with "Oh my goodness", or "Gosh", the G-word is substituted for "God". Similar euphemisms are used instead of the word "Jesus", eg "Jumping Jimminy".


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Subject: RE: meaning and origin of o my giddy aunt
From: Emma B
Date: 13 Apr 09 - 05:20 AM

Nice explanation on line too to extend the above

"The word giddy has been used to mean mad or stupid since the first millennium. The Old English word gidi derives from the Old Teutonic word for God - gudo. So, those who were labelled giddy were those who were possessed of God. The more recent (16th century) use of dizzy, to mean or affected with vertigo began life as the word turngiddy. Shakespeare alluded to this in Lucrece, 1593:

The word has been applied as an intensifier to all sorts of things - giddy-headed, the giddy ox, etc. Shakespeare used the word 30 or more times in his plays and associated it with both Goths and geese. He seems to have noticed that giddy works best with other 'G' words, although he missed out on the only other 'giddy' phrase to have lasted apart from giddy aunt, i.e. the giddy goat.

While it is the 'giddy goat' it is always my 'Giddy aunt!', i.e. it is used as an exclamation rather than a description. The first use I can find of 'my giddy aunt' is in The journal of a disappointed man (1919), by W. N. P. Barbellion"


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Subject: RE: meaning and origin of o my giddy aunt
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 13 Apr 09 - 05:25 AM

There's an entry in a website called The Phrase Finder , but it's not conclusive. It's not in Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. My copy of Fowler's Modern English Usage appears to have fallen into evil hands, but would probably be the best place to look.

My not very well-educated guess is that it's a way of avoiding the direct oath 'My God', not unlike saying 'Gordon Bennett' or the cockney 'Cor Blimey' for 'God blind me'. I think it conveys exasperation as well as surprise.

My mother, now 89, uses it, so I suspect it's a 1920s middle-class expression. P. G. Wodehouse uses it, and also the more elaborate 'Cor chase my aunt Fanny up a gum tree'.

Valmai (Lewes)


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Subject: RE: meaning and origin of o my giddy aunt
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 13 Apr 09 - 05:29 AM

Wodehouse had a thing about aunts, giddy or otherwise; but can one ever use the term without invoking an actual personage? It was a term used by my mother, and as a child I would often ask to which particular giddy aunt (there were a few) was she referring. Even now, should I use it myself, I know exactly who I mean.


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Subject: RE: meaning and origin of o my giddy aunt
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 13 Apr 09 - 09:38 AM

Another expression that indicates surprise and baffles me is 'I'll go to the foot of our stairs!'. Could be local (Salford), or North West England only I suppose but anyone have a reason for that one?

DeG


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Subject: RE: meaning and origin of o my giddy aunt
From: Snuffy
Date: 13 Apr 09 - 09:53 AM

Those who were labelled "giddy" behaved as if they were suffering from gid: a disease especially of sheep caused by the larva of a tapeworm (Multiceps multiceps) in the brain, staggering uncontrollably and unable to stand or walk straight.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning and origin of o my giddy aunt
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 13 Apr 09 - 12:42 PM

...perhaps an ant hropologist could confirm this..?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning and origin of o my giddy aunt
From: Paul Burke
Date: 13 Apr 09 - 12:49 PM

'I'll go to the foot of our stairs!'- has a G- word and an F-word in it, like flip.

I can't do my bottom belly button up...
I saw a Chinaman doing up his... flies are a nuisance etc.

I think social norms were so tightly patrolled (by the neighbours) that the most innocent expressions could be considered racy language.

By the golly gosh!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning and origin of o my giddy aunt
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Apr 09 - 06:21 PM

Is there any sense in which 'giddy' has not been used?
In most of them, 'avoidance of the word god' is not involved.

A quote in the OED from 1796, "Plain Sense": Lady Almeria was a little giddy-brain.
Rudyard Kipling, 1893, "he put his arm round 'av me, and I came into the sun, the hills an' the rocks skippin' big giddy-go-rounds.
Smollet, 1748, "a parcel of giddy-headed girls."
Fryer, 1698, "The heir .... being of little credit, being a giddy-head."
Armin, 1604, We have many giddie-pated poets ....."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning and origin of o my giddy aunt
From: Snuffy
Date: 13 Apr 09 - 06:30 PM

In most of them, 'avoidance of the word god' is not involved..

No, but it's only being claimed as avoidance when used in the phrase "Oh my Giddy Aunt", which obviously is a circumlocution to avoid the perceived blasphemy of "O my God"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning and origin of o my giddy aunt
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Apr 09 - 07:58 PM

Are you sure about that?
Could be she was a few marbles short- or had a few too many. Examples show that there are several meanings, but...
It seems that the 'in lieu of God thing' is the meaning most found currently in UK.

Oh, my aching back, there are still other possibilities to those I posted.
One is that it dates from the time of the play, "Charley's Aunt," thus (perhaps) meaning impetuous. (dubious)
Another, from Australia- Giddy aunts are keepers of family stories and tales. Another usage there- keep a giddy store (one with all sorts of things, old and new, for impulse buyers and collectors.
"Oh my Giddy Aunt" is a musical comedy by Moran and Kayden.

One used by Americans, no relation- I knew right from the giddyap about that .... See Lighter, Historical Dictionary of American Slang.
Lighter does not include the expression current in England.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning and origin of o my giddy aunt
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 Apr 09 - 10:42 AM

'I'll go to the foot of our stairs!'- has a G- word and an F-word in it, like flip.

Ahhhhh - Of course. Like my Mum's use of 'Sweet Fanny Adams' indicating 'nothing'. I am still convinced she hasn't realised what else sweet FA could be:-)

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning and origin of o my giddy aunt
From: GUEST,Gillian
Date: 02 Feb 11 - 07:58 AM

This was an expression used by my grandmother [born 1880] to describe shock or surprize at a comment given or an unusual situation. It definately stems from the 19th century & I would presume it even predates that.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning and origin of o my giddy aunt
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 02 Feb 11 - 08:31 AM

Might be C19; but as pointed out above flourished in 1920s, when used by Wodehouse ~~ &, I would add, by his overlapping tho younger contemporary Richmal Crompton in her William books.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning and origin of o my giddy aunt
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 02 Feb 11 - 09:10 AM

I have also seen it used by Martin Clifford (aka Frank Richards) in his various school stories.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning and origin of o my giddy aunt
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 02 Feb 11 - 11:53 AM

I have come across the exclamation "Oh, my sainted aunt!" many times in old books. (I've never seen "giddy" before.) I don't believe God has anything to do with it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning and origin of o my giddy aunt
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Feb 11 - 02:15 PM

Guest Gillian- see above posts. Variously used, in print from the early 1600s.


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