Gadzooks! and Other Ways To Show Surprise

2 min read

If you’re truly excited, your vocabulary should show it. Every generation has its own interjections, and our shock has evolved over time. But the days of "OMG!" are over, and it's time to upgrade your excitement. Here are some great exclamations we should bring back to the present.

Writer’s tip: Just like OMG, the exclamation point is also overused. Instead of peppering your writing with these startling punctuation marks, try to show your excitement with your clever words instead.


With the "z" and double "o," gadzooks just looks flashy. Gadzooks probably started as a portmanteau of the old-timey swear, “God’s hooks,” but eventually evolved into one mashed-up word. Try this one out if you want to feel like a startled Victorian aristocrat.


"Prithee" is just as much a request as an exclamation. Compare it to a sarcastic "oh, please" along with an eye roll for good measure. Prithee combines the words “pray thee,” a way to make a request dating back to the 16th century.


"Zounds" is the 16th-century equivalent of any exasperated modern swear. It’s a mashup of “God’s wounds,” similar to "gadzooks," and is useful in a variety of situations. There's a strong case for this one making a reappearance in the everyday lexicon.


This one came about as a way to avoid shouting the blasphemous "Jesus Christ." Other options include rhyming versions like “jiminy piminy” or even “niminy piminy,” which means refined and proper (but not in a nice way). It looks a little like "criminy," another exclamation used in exasperated disbelief.


"Skoal" isn’t meant for surprise, but for elation. When out for drinks with friends or doing the toast at a wedding, "skoal" (or "skol") is the perfect way to show the newlyweds love. It has Old Norse roots, but it’s the new old-fashioned way of saying, “Cheers!”


Originating from the French phrase gran merci (great thanks), "gramercy" is a way to express gratitude, especially in a surprising situation. The next time someone prepares your favorite food, brings you a puppy on a stressful day, or surprises you with flowers, pull out "gramercy" to let them know just how much it means to you.


While the other words express happy or just neutral surprise, "fie" is an exclamation of disgust. It’s an old-fashioned way of saying “shame on you!” when someone cuts in line at the grocery store or takes credit for your idea at work.

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