Golly gumdrops!

April 6, 2016

Have you ever exerted yourself so hard in the gym you can’t even believe how much it took out of you? It doesn’t exactly hurt (ok, sometimes it does) but you’ve reached your limit and so you just want to yell as loud as you can “MOTHAFUKKA!” Has that ever happened to you?

It would be nice to have a more genteel substitute.

As soon as I heard Lord Grantham utter “Golly gumdrops!” on the television show, Downton Abbey, I wanted to adopt the expression.   I can’t exactly call it a curse, right? But it would be so ludicrous in the context of a gym that, well, it appealed to me.  Except when I thought it through, I knew immediately it would be unsatisfying.

Which got me thinking about what makes a curse word satisfying.

First, there have to be some hard consonants. Like K. Or T. Or D.

Lots of air must be expelled, like in my example above.  And there has to be an accent syllable you can say really loud. Like “GolDAMit!”

But mostly, it has to be taboo, either a body taboo, like “dick” or something like that. Or a religious taboo, like “Jesus Christ!”

I find “Jesus Christ!” to be such a strange curse. The guy was into peace and love, for Christ’s sake– I mean, for crying out loud!

So yeah, taboos count when it comes to a really satisfying curse.  Researchers have found that cuss words appear to live in the animal part of the brain, the one that was the source of howls of pain and grunts of frustration and pleasure. Looking around me at the gym, I can see how that would be true.

In the gym I try to curse in Italian, which always cracks Hot Trainer up.

“Madonna mia!” is a favorite. I use it often.  But not as often as I use “Mother of God!” which I’ve tried to say instead of “MOTHAFUKKA!” –but sometimes only “MOTHAFUKKA” will do.

But Italian curses are not all that effective for me in releasing tension. I don’t find “Vaffannculo” very satisfying in Italian. It’s not as satisfying as the English version: “go F  yourself.”

And as hard as I try, I just can’t make “Golly gumdrops” do it for me.  I gave it a try in the gym and Hot Trainer tells me that it doesn’t work. So it’s not just me.

Still, it’s not like we really want to go around using these crass curse words. It’s so much better if no one knows what you are saying. Which is why I know you want to learn to cuss in Italian.

Here’s a handy video that teaches you exactly how.

28 comments on “Golly gumdrops!
  1. Carla says:

    Very very very long story short when I lived in Guatemala I appropriated the word chicken bus as my catch all swearword. A decade later it still fits the bill.

  2. I love everything about this post. No, I don’t think golly gumdrops will work for me either. I did try to bring back “Yikes” a few years ago in my attempt to have a G-rated exclamation when I was with my kids. Fortunately they’re adults now. Unfortunately, I’m still saying “Yikes” and it does get some odd looks.I think I’ll make an attempt to find an Italian cuss to match the mood.

  3. Karen Austin says:

    I swear a little more than I should for a lay minister to the women in my congregation. But I remember reading articles over the last year that discuss research on people who swear. 1) They are more trustworthy than non-swearers and 2) their swearing helps them manage pain more effectively. Well, hot d**n!

  4. Roz Warren says:

    Golly Gumdrops is a perfect “swear” for library work. I’m adding it to the exclamations I’m allowed to employ when the going gets tough at the library where I work.

  5. Laurie Stone says:

    I hate to say it but there’s something satisfying about the F-bomb. I use it too often and will have to try Golly Gumdrops. Thanks!.

  6. I can only imagine the look on the faces around you when you yelled out golly gumdrops!

  7. Tammy says:

    Well, hell’s bells! Cussing is therapy, isn’t it? I mean, if it makes you feel better, it can’t be all bad. In DA Mary would often say “golly”. Loved that. I’ve adopted it and you wouldn’t believe the strange looks I get. Am sticking with the original mother of all cuss words, because I’m just old fashion that way.

  8. Golly gumdrops sounds like something you would say if you are in awe of something. Like what freakin’ fantastic thing. I’m not a big cusser though. My boyfriend cusses enough for the both of us.Cussing in Italian would be cool though. And then there’s merde (Fr for shit)

  9. My husband and I are major cussers, I have to admit. I find f to be the best word for just about everything!

  10. Andrea Bates says:

    Golly gumdrops sounds all “oh golly gee” to me. It’s not powerful enough!

    But I curse way less often as a mom of a child who hears EVERYTHING!

  11. Mary says:

    I too, curse in Italian. My Nonna would curse in English because she said it wasn’t her first language so it didn’t count. So when I curse in Italian, it doesn’t count!

  12. Doug says:

    judging by the number of comments, you have tapped into a hot topic here.
    Yesterday in a French class I attend, we noted that in the French language,
    words associated with the body and its function are not as vulgar as words associated with the church and religion. I English the opposite seems to be the rule.
    I would like to have a dollar for every time I hear someone say OMG in any of its variations.
    When I worked in a garage, the language was pretty coarse, and the only adjective/adverb that one needed was an F bomb. Unfortunately when I left the garage, it was harder to drop the habit than it was to drop an F bomb; unusually in inappropriate places, at inappropriate times, and with inappropriate company.
    As a child I remember my father’s go to word was “balls”. I remember my mother being upset when she heard it.
    It seems to me that you have though a lot about choosing your own go to word(s). You are on track with the need for sharp sounding consonants. Four letter, single syllable words seems to help get it out in a sudden burst. You may need different words for different languages, merde dose not seem to be offensive in French.
    Continue on, practice makes perfect. No that is perfect practice makes perfect. Practicing the wrong things does not make you perfect. Enjoy the #blogboost.

  13. Anna Palmer says:

    Alternative curses are a very important subject. I have a friend who uses the word “retard” as a derogatory term. He says he is willing to stop if I can find him an alternative. I told him to fuck off. No alternative needed.

  14. Carolann says:

    LOL this post cracked me up.I’m a potty mouth from way backlol. I love Downton Abby so much too and would love to adopt that saying. It’s hysterical! I see you used on a comment today too which also made me crack up. Love this post Carol…just loved it!

  15. Beth Havey says:

    I love golly gumdrops. In public I think it might start a great conversation. For me in private, shit is most often what I use. Isn’t it weird that even swear words can be individualistic???!!

  16. I rarely drop the “F” bomb, but there are times when it just comes out. Fortunately, I’ve trained my son not to use the “F” word seven or eight times in a sentence…at least when he’s talking to me and if he slips up he apologizes.

    Two of my go to expressions are “Judas Priest” and “DAMITalltohell.”

    I grew up in an Italian neighborhood, so I’m Italian by osmosis and many of the expressions in the video are familiar to me and I heard them often. They sound much better than they look in print. 🙂

  17. Ha! Same here on this: “As soon as I heard Lord Grantham utter “Golly gumdrops!” on the television show, Downton Abbey, I wanted to adopt the expression.” That line in the show just made me smile.

    My go-to is just plain ol’ “Shit!” Or, “Shit! Shit! Shit!”

    I’m in for learning Italian, though. At least the crass phrases that won’t seem so crass.

  18. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    Carol, we must be on the same wavelength. Last week we blogged about the simple life on the same day, and today we blogged about the gym. Too funny! P.S, I love your site’s makeover!

  19. Sh*t is my favorite gym cuss word because more often than not, I feel exactly as you described in the gym. And there are some situations where the only thing that will do is a big ole fat F-bomb. Not proud to say it or that I use it, but it’s the truth. Your post cracked me up, by golly!

  20. Liv says:

    I had a Sicilian friend who taught me all the good bad words…

  21. Golly gumdrops just doesn’t do it for me. I’m a proud member of the FB group, “Smart, Articulate Women Who Say F*** A Lot.” 🙂

  22. sue says:

    Hmmm not sure golly gumdrops actually describes F****** especially when pushed to the limit in the gym! I’m sure it does sound more refined though and typical of Lord Grantham. I miss Downton Abbey and especially dear Maggie Smith.

  23. Linda Hobden says:

    I tend to use the word sh*t but over the years since my babies were born I often substituted sh*t with “sugar” when they were in the vicinity.

  24. Faye says:

    I wish the worst phrase I used was “Golly Gumdrops”! Unfortunately, my preschooler has begun to pick up on my – ahem – stronger curses, so I am looking at any and all replacements! I will be trying out GG for the next few days to see if it fits,

  25. Lee Gaitan says:

    I teach, so I have to really be careful with my speech–if I’m sweaing a lot in my everyday life, it’s bound to slip out in the classroom when I don’t mean it to! Sometimes, though, nothing else feels as good. I find release with a good son of a biiiiiitch when the going gets rough, outside of class! 😉

  26. I’m with you, Carol, on Golly Gumdrops just not cutting it when the going gets rough. I wasn’t brought up cursing, though my father did occasionally, I never heard my mother swear. But I learned it after I left the nest and there are times when nothing else will do than a well placed F-Bomb. I need to review the video to learn some Italian since I have two grandsons and they repeat EVERYTHING!

  27. Jessica Kirk says:

    I LOVE Downtown Abbey!!! I cuss. A lot. At least in person when talking and on my personal FB. I try not so much in any professional writings and when I’m out in public. However, I absolutely love the idea of learning how to cuss in a different language! I will have to learn my favorite cuss words in French (which is my favorite language!)

  28. Silly Mummy says:

    Haha! Yes, the old fashioned, posh ones are great for amusement value, but they’re not the same. Laughing about the Italian. Many years ago, I had an Italian boyfriend. He spoke perfect English, but would often swear in Italian. &, in fact, would sometimes conduct whole arguments in Italian, which made it very hard to argue back. That was why he did it, of course.

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