[Ads-l] "Holy Cow"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue Dec 12 19:51:34 EST 2017

Holy Canarsie!

Used in the movie, "To Each His Own" - or should that be "... Their Own" or
"... They Own"?


On Mon, Dec 11, 2017 at 3:26 PM, Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:

> I recently updated a blog-post on "Holy cow" with a few early examples.
> https://esnpc.blogspot.com/2014/05/holy-cow-hinduism-and-baseball.html
> My original post<https://esnpc.blogspot.com/2014/05/holy-cow-hinduism-
> and-baseball.html> included 19th century British references to stories in
> which people in India were said to "swear by the holy cow".  It's not clear
> whether those accounts are true or fictional, and they do not suggest the
> existence of the expression in English.
> The earliest apparent reference to the expression I found was 1905.
> "A lover of the cow writes to this column to protest against a certain
> variety of Hindoo oath having to do with the vain use of the name of the
> milk producer.  There is the profane exclamations, “holy cow!” and, “By the
> stomach of the eternal cow!”  These are Hindoo cuss words of great
> fierceness and antiquity and probably correspond to the American farmer’s
> hostile invective, “by hen.”  Then there’s grandma’s blasphemy in times of
> great stress:
> “Cat’s foot!”
> Evidently the mind needs some familiar figure from which to start
> explosively when things go wrong.  Eugene Field’s favorite “by the dog”
> should not be forgotten in this connection for it is often very soothing."
> Minneapolis Journal, November 24, 1905.
> The next earliest baseball references I had seen were from Barry's website<
> https://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/holy_cow_
> yankee_announcer_phil_rizzuto_catchphrase> from March 1913 and June 1914,
> with reference to a player named Peters and Mullen, respectively.
> My additions to the post includes an earlier, two-panel bowling cartoon
> from 1909.  In the first panel, Mr. Fodder wonders whether the bowler he is
> watching is using a real cannon ball or not.  In the second panel, Mr.
> Fodder's hand is crushed by the ball as it rolls up the return rack - "Holy
> Cow Jeewhillikins! By gosh, you win!" Buffalo Enquirer, August 13, 1909,
> page 13.
> I also added a couple slightly earlier examples related to the players
> named Peters and Mullen, from February 1913 and May 1913, respectively.
> “Holy Cow” Peters, alias “Rube,”  put in an appearance this afternoon and
> was up to his old tricks again,  enticing Billie Burke into the shower bath
> for a little liquid  greeting.
> Sacramento Union (California), February 28, 1913, page 9.
> I read this as suggesting that he had his nickname already the season
> before.  Peters had started the previous (1912) season with the Chicago
> White Sox , before finishing it with Sacramento, so it is possible that
> "Holy Cow" was used in the major leagues as early as 1912.
> [When he was out with an injury] the manager's [Charlie Mullen] smiling
> face and 'Holy Cow' were missing around the initial sack [(first base)].
> Lincoln Star (Nebraska), May 10, 1913, page 5.
> Charlie Mullen started the 1914 season with Lincoln and finished it with
> the Yankees.  Assuming he brought "Holy Cow" with him to New York, Yankees
> fans would have heard "Holy Cow" at the Polo Grounds three years before
> Phil Rizzuto was born.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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