Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by sculptor, Nov 11, 2015.
does 'dag nab it" = devil take it?
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Don't think so.
"Dag nab it" / "Dagnabbit" (so other such spelling) expresses the same as "(God) damn it!" (or "Gosh darn it!" etc).
"Devil take it" is an expression when you can't be bothered with something and want to be rid of it. It's an expression of frustration.
In earlier eras, people were careful to avoid blasphemy--either because they believed God would be displeased, or simply because the other members of polite society might ostracize them for being so rude. Nonetheless, the urge to blaspheme was strong, and it was common for a person to get halfway through a blasphemous oath before catching himself and struggling for another word similar enough to finish the sentence.
"God's wounds" (referring to Jesus's wounds on the cross) was a common expletive, and it was easily transformed into "gadzooks," which today is merely a humorous exclamation. ("Zounds," with the first syllable elided," is another version of the same thing.) "Jesus Christ" became "Jiminy Cricket." And "God damn" became "Dad gum," which we now spell as one word.
"Gosh darn" is another version, in this case an Americanism, with "darn" as a euphemism for "damn." In New England before the Revolution, cursing was illegal, so people used euphemisms to avoid being punished.
"Dag nab" is just a rearrangement of "God damn."
Separate names with a comma.