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#123288 - 02/19/04 01:50 AM Holy Smoke!
gift horse Offline

Registered: 11/03/03
Posts: 180
Loc: Austin, TX
This weekend a rather inquisitive 8 year old asked me where the saying "holy smokes" came from. I didn't know. Just did a quick Google search & an AWAD search and still came up empty. I'm willing to bet someone here knows the answer to my little friend's question.

Thanks in advance!


#123289 - 02/19/04 02:24 AM Re: Holy Smoke!
sjmaxq Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/20/03
Posts: 3230
Loc: Te Ika a Maui
<swag>Papal elections?</swag>

noho ora mai

#123290 - 02/19/04 04:19 AM Re: Holy Smoke!
wsieber Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 1027
Loc: Switzerland

#123291 - 02/19/04 06:04 AM Re: Holy Smoke!
gift horse Offline

Registered: 11/03/03
Posts: 180
Loc: Austin, TX
This look backwards may provide some enlightenment

I must be missing something there. I didn't see anything about "holy smokes" specifically. Then again, I'm working on 2 hours of sleep.

#123292 - 02/19/04 08:13 AM Re: Holy Smoke!
wsieber Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 1027
Loc: Switzerland
I didn't claim a specific reference to smokes, but such euphemistic expletives tend to use rapidly varying "substrates", the concrete meaning being less important than the "emotional impact". Smoke has certainly scored high in this respect in recent times. Today I heard that Ireland has banned smoking from nearly all of public space. Mental asylums are one of the rare exceptions(!)

#123293 - 02/19/04 08:50 AM Re: Holy Smoke!
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Holy smoke!, 1889; Holy cats!, Holy mackerel!, both 1803; Holy Moses!, 1906, Holy cow!, 1942." From “I Hear America Talking” by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976).

#123294 - 02/19/04 02:17 PM Re: Holy Smoke!
Father Steve Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/06/00
Posts: 2788
Loc: Seattle, Washington, USA
One suspects a connection between this exclamation and the idea of using smoke as a form of prayer. In both Old Testament times and in the modern church, incense is used and its rising smoke is compared to prayers rising from Earth to the Almighty.

"Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice." (Psalm 141:2, Authorized Version)

#123295 - 02/20/04 07:21 AM Re: Holy Smoke!
maverick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
> smoke as a form of prayer

I think it goes back further than the Christian era, to Greek civilisation at least ~ and doubtless many other sacrificial offering type cultures surely?

#123296 - 02/20/04 08:52 AM Re: Holy Smoke!
Fiberbabe Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/12/01
Posts: 771
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Buddhism too ~ lots of incense offerings involved in my temple experiences!

#123297 - 02/20/04 12:57 PM Re: Holy Smoke!
dodyskin Offline

Registered: 04/24/02
Posts: 475
Loc: manchester uk
Quinion has this http://www.quinion.com/words/qa/qa-hol1.htm on holy smoke, I've never heard this phrase so I'm flying blind here, sorry. He doesn't add much to the posts previous tbh.

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