Evasive Synonyms and Taking the Lord's Name in Vain

We have to be very careful about taking God’s name in vain. I see people posting on CAF writing “OMG” and “sheesh”.

Gosh, sheesh… these are evasive synonyms. They make us feel better because we did not actually use the word but they mean the same thing. It bother’s me when people do it in in person. There really is no place for it on Catholic message boards.

The Jews used evasive synonyms to avoid saying God’s name and to avoid profaning the sacred. Jesus warned sternly about taking the names of God and referring to sacred things in profane ways.

"Woe to you, blind guides, who say, If any one swears by the temple, it is nothing; but if any one swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say,If any one swears by the altar, it is nothing; but if any one swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; and he who swears by the temple, swears by it and by him who dwells in it; and he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it. (Matthew 23:16-22)

I’m just as guilty as anyone else, but the second commandment still stands.


IM(ns)HO, I’ve always thought of “Sheesh” as being a more verbalized sigh of frustration, as opposed to being a minced version of “Jesus.”

I always though sheesh was an evasive synonym for a non-blasphemous vulgarity.

Ditto. I don’t see any problem with using it.


Regretfully, I’m guiltier than most of this. In Ireland; taking the holy name in vain is common enough. I do try not to but then use the evasive synonym instead. :frowning:

Even ‘wept!’ is short for something sacrilegious. I will have to try to stop entirely, rather than substitute ‘fiddlesticks’ or the like as I’m bound to get rather odd looks otherwise…


OMG=ohmygosh! Which is why I usually type OMGosh

And sheesh is like geez

Sorry not following with these two examples

I think what the freak is a better example

Or no friggin way!

But I actually think these are a good thing because when I hear people say this it reminds me that these people are purposely choosing not to you vulgar curse words and it makes you realize just how ugly these words really are.

Well not all of them. I think what the freak is ugly as well as some others but some of these can be acceptable IMO.

That’s what I thought too. :o

Of course, a lot of us use “OMG” (or even just MG, JC, etc… I’m abbreviating for the sake of modesty) without realizing what we’re up to. I kicked the habit by substituting the names of politicians and local “godmen” (= religious charlatans) whenever I found myself tempted to use one of those phrases. :wink:

Not to nit-pick here because I agree that taking the Lord’s name in vain is a HUGE problem, but… It is debated if the origin of sheesh comes from Jesus. Regardless of origin, however, the meaning today has no link to anything of the Lord. In language, what matters most is the current meaning of a word, not a possible past meaning.

What is MG?

There is a kid’s show on PBS called Peg + Cat and my little one would love to watch it. It seems innocuous enough! So we sat down to watch an episode together and I kid you not, they said “OMG!” over and over and over again. And this is a little kids show! Ages 3-7! Yeah, we don’t watch that one in our house anymore. Good grief! (I almost just said “Sheesh” but feel that it might have been inappropriate given the nature of the thread. ;))


intent, intent, intent…

When someone says any of these phrases in a sinful manner, what is their intent? What is the sinful intent?

Does everyone who happens to use those particular words have that intent? If not, why are we so caught up on the words themselves rather than the intent?

Are we really just saying that one word interjections of surprise/astonishment are all sinful?

Thessalonians 5:17 advises us to, “pray without ceasing.” This would seem to contradict the understanding that is being presented here re: using the Lord’s name in vain, wouldn’t it?

My husband has a dirty mouth, he cusses a lot. He does make an effort not to especially around me , but I think it’s hard for him, because of his work environment every other word is F in place of all adjetives. I despite cussing and I think it stems from a lack of vocabulary.
He’s definitely a lot better and when we started dating his cussing rubbed off on me until I decided no more. It’s been much easier for me but when I get very upset the F bombs do get dropped. I hate it though : (

First of all, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” is the most misunderstood commandment, bar none. It does not directly refer to use of profanity, that was not its intent. It refers to detracting from the reputation of the Lord. From preaching false doctrine. From teaching error. From taking false refuge in the Lord or using His name to defend sinful practice. The prohibition of profanity here is a secondary meaning that we have added in modern times.

I will point out that “evasive synonyms” are commonly and technically referred to as “minced oaths”. So let’s get our terminology straight here. This thread is about minced oaths.

Now, not all one-word interjections are sinful. I say “Wow” or “Oh, man”, or “Rats” and other things. To my knowledge, none of these are minced oaths. I say them with a clear conscience. I used to say “gosh” or “jeez” or “****” or variations on these things and I felt secure that I was stopping myself from using profanity and this was acceptable. Then I thought on it more, prayed on it, and I came to the conclusion that these words hurt others just as surely as the actual words do, and there is no excuse for mincing oaths when it is merely a substitute for a truly bad word I would have uttered instead. Therefore, I excised minced oaths from my vocabulary. And I can promise you that I still have plenty of ways to express myself. Profanity, and minced oaths along with it, is the refuge of cowards and ignoramuses who do not know their language well enough. Anyone familiar with the English language can attest that there are myriad ways to express surprise, astonishment, dismay, disappointment, disapproval, and other emotions, without resorting to any profanities or minced oaths. It is simply a matter of vocabulary and word choice. So I would encourage all Christians to get familiar with their vernacular and expand their horizons by embracing terms which have no hidden or sinister meaning, words which do not hurt others by their use, and words which do not offend the Lord to whom we should be giving glory and worship.

Mahatma Gandhi. :wink:

(“My God”, actually. One of my besetting vices.) :slight_smile:

I have said worse than “Geez” or “Gosh” lately in moments of anger.

I take comfort in being able to make reparations like this:

Act of Reparation for Blasphemies Uttered Against the Holy Name

O Jesus, my Savior and Redeemer, Son of the living God, behold, we kneel before Thee and offer Thee our reparation; we would make amends for all the blasphemies uttered against Thy holy name, for all the injuries done to Thee in the Blessed Sacrament, for all the irreverence shown toward Thine immaculate Virgin Mother, for all the calumnies and slanders spoken against Thy spouse, the holy Catholic and Roman Church. O Jesus, who has said: “If you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it to you,” we pray and beseech Thee for all our brethren who are in danger of sin; shield them from every temptation to fall away from the true faith; save those who are even now standing on the brink of the abyss; to all of them give light and knowledge of the truth, courage and strength for the conflict with evil, perseverance in faith and active charity! For this do we pray, most merciful Jesus, in Thy name, unto God the Father, with whom Thou livest and reignest in the unity of the Holy Ghost world without end. Amen.

Yikes! Good call, there. Talk about catching them young… :frowning:

Good grief! (I almost just said “Sheesh” but feel that it might have been inappropriate given the nature of the thread. ;))

Would “good grief” also count as an evasive synonym, I wonder? (After all, it sounds close to those archaic favourites - zounds, odds, marry, etc…) This is clearly not a topic for the scrupulous. :wink:

Since profanity was one of the sins I struggled mightily with, I devised a system of short Acts of Contrition for when I sinned throughout the day. Therefore, any time I slip up with profanity or another sin, I pray silently, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner”. It is my small way of self-correcting and not allowing my anger or judgement to get the better of me.

Working in a bookstore and stocking, of all sections, religion, a 10 lb. extra large print Bible fell squarely on my toe. :eek::eek::eek:
Did I say a couple of bad words? You betcha. Did I purposefully act to willfully disparage my Father’s name? No, I would never.
Did I unintentionally react to acute pain without thinking? Yes.
Did I feel badly? Yup!! But there was never the intention to purposefully malign My Father’s name. So after apologising to Him, I laughed at the irony and thought that if He could speak to me directly, He might have said,
“Ok, I’ll let that one one go, as you did not itend to say that and there was no ill intent.
But still, try not to do that again.”

I used to swear a blue streak being that I spent all day along with constructon workers. I eventually tried to clean it up and say things like Darn or Geeze (which is a derivative(?) of Jesus). Anyway, I came to the conclusion that changing the words didn’t change the intent, if anything it made me more aware of the fact that I was breaking the 2nd Commandment all the more. Now, I just omit saying those. Try to at least.

There’s something to be said about becoming more aware of what you are doing throughout the day. Now when I get a ding or a cut at work,I just breathe and maybe hiss a little, but do not use the spoken word to “curse” my pain… I breathe out to breathe down the pain. As for the whole OMG, I agree that there is a trivialization of it. My son came home with a stamp on his spelling quiz that said “OMG!! Great Job!” I get that kids use t, but what ever happened to just a “WOW!” or “Super!” maybe evena hand written “Good Job!”:shrug:

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