Euphemisms: Should a Christian Avoid Euphemisms for God?

What are euphemisms, and what euphemisms do Christians need to be concerned about? Do euphemisms for God's name break the Third Commandment?

Webster’s Dictionary has this definition of euphemism: “The use of a less direct word or phrase for one considered offensive.” There are many categories of euphemisms, but the two Christians are most concerned with are those that violate the Third Commandment and those that ask God to condemn others. Unfortunately, many who claim to be Christian unknowingly use these types of euphemisms that disobey His instructions.

Euphemisms misusing God’s name

The Third Commandment states, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 5:11). “In vain” literally means to use God’s name in an empty or trifling way, without appropriate reverence for God.

In our modern world we hear this commandment violated overtly and frequently all around us, with “God,” “Jesus,” “Christ” or “Lord” uttered merely as filler words, exclamations, expressions of anger or contempt or in conjunction with cursing or profanity. One of the most pervasive abuses of the name of God is the phrase “oh my …!,” which has become so commonplace it now has its own abbreviation (OMG) for text messaging.

In addition to blatantly saying God’s names, there are euphemisms that have modified the same names into less explicit or softened forms; but because they are merely modifications of God’s name(s), they likewise are violations of the intent of the Third Commandment.

The list below is provided to help you identify common euphemisms for God’s name, in order to avoid inadvertently making irreverent references to God’s holy name. (You can find more information in many dictionaries that include slang words and euphemisms.)

Direct Word

Euphemisms

God

Gol, Golly, Gosh, Gad, ye gad/s, by George, by Jove, Almighty

Jesus or Christ

Geez, Gee, Sheez, Gee-wiz (Jesus-wizard), cripes (Christ), Jeepers, by Jingo, Jeezers, bejeezers (by Jesus)

initials of Jesus Christ

Jiminy Cricket, Jiminy Christmas, Jumpin’ Catfish, Jeepers Creepers, Jeezy Creezy, Judas Christopher, Jason Crisp, etc.

Lord

Lordy, Lawd, Lawdy

Holy

Holy is a word that refers to God’s nature, works or anything God is present or involved in. Any use of this word in conjunction with any other word (outside of its correct and proper context) is a violation of the Third Commandment.

Euphemisms for eternal judgment

Another category of euphemisms that is inappropriate for Christians to use is those asking God to condemn (“damn”) a person or thing. Euphemisms for condemn include darn, durn, dang, doggone (a euphemism for both the words “God” and “damn”) and any other combination of these words with euphemisms for God.

While the Bible teaches that Christians should learn to discern good from evil (Hebrews 5:14), it also teaches that we should not condemn others in the sense of trying to determine their ultimate fate. God the Father has given the judgment of mankind to the Son (John 5:22; 2 Corinthians 5:10), and it is His prerogative to judge—not ours. Referring to this ultimate judgment, Jesus said: “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). Jesus also cautions us: “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matthew 7:2) and “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

Are the words we speak important to God? Jesus Christ said, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).

Euphemisms that were coined to utter God’s name without proper reverence or to judge another’s ultimate fate are inappropriate for a Christian. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification” (Ephesians 4:29). As lights in a dark world, we are to set the example not only in our conduct, but in pure speech as well.