Holy Moley!; (1929)

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Tue Jan 13 15:04:15 UTC 2004

In a message dated 12/18/03 12:29:32 AM, douglas at NB.NET writes:

> >My question on this last cite would be is the "New Deal is no longer 
> holy/to
> >Professor Raymond Moley" a possible origin of the "Holy Moley" spelling of
> >the term?
> Conceivable but not likely IMHO even if the times are exactly right. The
> more general speculation that Raymond Moley's name (in the news) influenced
> the spelling tendency (without reference to this specific jingle) is more
> likely, of course. But it could be just coincidence, as I think "moley" is
> a reasonable way to spell the word from its sound.
> I presume "Holy Moley" is an alteration of "Holy Moses". [The alternative
> in HDAS, from a plant name "moly", is superficially implausible IMHO ...
> analogous to modern "jinx" from a bird name "jynx".]
> Did "Holy Moses" originate as a euphemism for something like "Holy Mother
> of Christ/Jesus/God"?
> -- Doug Wilson
A Google search for "moley AND Greek" turned up the following (looking up 
"moley" in the slang dictionary would have led to the same results):

 Re: Holy moley!

 Posted by ESC on July 04, 2000 at 15:07:31:
 posted by Bev Glass on July 04, 2000 at 06:26:03:
 : Where did the phrase "holy mole" (mo-lee) come from and what does it mean?
There’s a whole list of “holy” expressions under “Goddam, Darn, and Oh 
Perdition!” in “I Hear America Talking” by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand 
Reinhold Co., New York, 1976).
“…blasphemy has been a part of the American language from its beginning. 
However, the majority of respectable, religious American businessmen, parents, 
and old maids of the past have, at least in public, preferred milder euphemisms 
like ‘darn!’ and ‘cripes!’ or even more delicate mincing terms like ‘Oh 
perdition!’ and ‘Shucks!’…”
 Among the “minced oaths” listed by Mr. Flexner are: Holy smoke!, 1889; Holy 
cats! and Holy Mackerel!, both 1803; Holy Moses!, 1906; and Holy cow!, 1942.
 The “Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, H-O” 
by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994, has this entry: “moley n. (pop. 
As a characteristic exclamation of ‘Captain Marvel,’ hero of a series of 
comic books begun 1940, first written by C.C. Beck; perh. reflecting ‘moly’ ‘
magic herb in Greek mythology’, in allusion to the invocation of mythological 
figures as a source of the character’s powers; perh. euphem. and rhyming alt. of ‘
holy Moses.’ In phrase: ‘holy moley’ (used as an exclamation of surprise). 
1949 ‘Capt. Marvel Adventures, in Barrier & Williams ‘Book of Comics’ 87: 
Holey Moley! He got away…”

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