By the great horn spoon, I have finished my book! (Again.)

I finished my novel revisions! *flings confetti everywhere*

I feel less jubilant than that sounds, because the moment I was done it was borne in on me that everything I had written was TERRIBLE and nothing I had done had improved ANYTHING and all I had done was make more problems for myself, that I would doubtless FAIL TO SOLVE. In other words, this Captain Awkward post was pretty topical!

But I am going to let the book sit and stew in its own juices for a bit while I go off and joli katak in Cornwall, and then when I come back I will try to fix some of the new problems I have invented. And if those aren’t all fixed in Draft 5, that is all right, because I will just send it to my agent anyway and she can tell me how to fix it.

Which is to say — and I don’t think I’ve said this in public on the Internet yet — I’ve signed with a literary agent! \o/ The revisions are for her to look at. I queried my novel in early June and then had an extremely interesting three weeks, which I will blog about some day, but not now. Anyway I am very grateful to everyone who took the time to answer my questions about agents.

So that this post isn’t just “I did revisions! Yay! … They are terrible! Woe!”, here are some things I picked up in the course of working on the book. OED Online has been a hugely helpful writing tool (I get access through my library membership — one of many, many reasons why public libraries are a beautiful thing), and I particularly like the thesaurus. One of the things I stumbled across while clicking around was a list of non-religious, non-obscene oaths … and they are pretty amazing. Here is a selection!


By the mouse-foot. As in, “I’ll come and visit you; by the mouse-foot I will.”

Bread and salt. To take bread and salt is to swear. “No other wight, saue she, by bred & salt.”

By my hood and by my sheath. Do you mean … by your penis???

By the pody cody. This is “apparently a euphemistic alteration of body of God“.

What a/the goodyear. This is like what the heck, except it makes no sense. “What the goodyeere my lord, why are you thus out of measure sad?” (That is Shakespeare!)

Splutterdenails. As in, “Welsh Taffy he raves and crys Splutterdenails.” (I don’t understand that either. This sentence is a bit like the kind of sentence you would produce in school when they made you bina ayat to illustrate the meaning of a word, but you didn’t know the word, so you wrote something like “Ah Beng asked the teacher, ‘What does bobrok mean?'” and you were pretty pleased with yourself, but the teacher gave you 0 marks for it.)

Variants are “splutter” (“You are not mad I hope.” “Splutter, my Lady, but I am.”) and “splutter and vons” (“Splutter and vons! you lousy tog, who do you call my master?”) This is a perversion of God’s blood.

I snore. “Used as a mild expletive. U.S.” USians, please tell me that you exclaim “I snore!” all the time.

By the great horn spoon. Also U.S.” If you are American and neither use “I snore” nor “by the great horn spoon” in everyday conversation, don’t even tell me. I don’t wanna know!

By the hokey fiddle. Used in Joyce’s Ulysses. The other examples the OED gives are of variants “by hokey” or “by the hokey”, but I like “by the hokey fiddle” best.


4 thoughts on “By the great horn spoon, I have finished my book! (Again.)

  1. Congratulations! And I hope your Cornwall trip is super and relaxing after all your hard work. (Are you going to St Ives? I like St Ives.) Also I love not only this compendium of non-sweary oaths, but your commentary on same.

    My only question is, what is ‘joli katak’? I know ‘katak’, but Google Translate isn’t really helping me out here. If it ties in with ‘bagai katak dibawah tempurung’, I will be especially happy.

    • I am indeed going to St Ives! We’re gonna visit the Eden Project as well. DOMES :O

      Sadly, joli katak has nothing whatever to do with katak di bawah tempurung! Joli just means “jolly”. And a quick Google reveals that I’ve been using it incorrectly for years — I had a teacher who used it to mean “having fun/painting the town red”, but it appears to have a more specific meaning, of having fun *by* spending a ton of money on stuff. So like “splashing out”, I guess? Not sure if there’s a direct English equivalent.

  2. Anon says:

    My father was in the military, so we moved all over the US as I grew up. In nearly 30 years of travel, I have never heard “I snore” used in an expletive manner of any sort nor “by the great horn spoon” at all.

    That said, what wonderful nonsense, I should certainly be using such phrases. Thank you for the lovely list of oaths for the non-sweary.

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