What is the origin of “by Jove”?

starry sky and the words "by Jove"

Have you heard of “by Jove” (or as it is sometimes incorrectly said, “by Joe”)? Today, we’re going to talk about the origins of “by Jove” so you, too, can sound all fun and old-timey.

“By Jove” is an exclamation to show surprise or express emphasis.

Example: By Jove, I think he’s got it!

“By Jove” entered our language in the late fourteenth century as a way to refer to Jupiter. At this point in time, they were not talking about the planet, but rather the Roman god, Jupiter (whom the Greeks called “Zeus”).

Jove/Jupiter was the Roman god of the sky, who had power over both gods and men. To show his wrath, he would throw thunderbolts. (You didn’t want to make him angry.)

In the fourteenth century, when the English started saying “by Jove,” it was a way to say “my god” or “good god” without blaspheming the Christian god.

Shakespeare used this expression in Love’s Labors Lost in 1588: “By Jove, I always took three threes for nine.”

Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of editing, coaching, and social media packages.

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How to Write Stuttering

stutter photo

Photo by Mark Daynes on Unsplash

I recently edited a book in which there was a character who stuttered when he became anxious. There are guidelines about how to write stuttering and the best way to handle these characters and situations.

Here’s how you do it: write the first sound, and then repeat it one or more times, separating the sounds with a hyphen.

Example: He c-c-collected silly t-ties.

The first sound can be the first letter, as with the example above, or it can be two letters.

Example: I don’t think Holden Caulfield is a ph-phony.

Example: She dr-dr-dreaded the dance party.



Less often, stuttering happens in the middle of a word (typically with a consonant), but it follows the same rules.

Example: The cat ate the can-n-nary.

Is It a Stutter or a Pause?
If they pause and repeat a whole word, that’s not stuttering; that’s just a regular pause. In those cases, use ellipses to show the break.

Example: She said, “Wow, those khakis look so . . . so amazing on you.”

Don’t Overuse
Be sure to use stuttering sparingly so the text doesn’t get tiring (and annoying) to read. This also means limiting the number of characters who stutter. Really, any more than one can walk on the edge of overuse.

Erin Servais is an author coach and book editor who knows all the little tips and tricks that will make your manuscript look good. Learn more about how she and her company, Dot and Dash, LLC, can help you here.

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The King James Bible gave English some awesome phrases

Courtesy of mattleese.blogspot.com.

Regardless of your faith, or lack thereof, it is simply astonishing to learn the number of common English phrases that come from the King James Bible. “A drop in the bucket,” “the root of the matter,” “fight the good fight,” these phrases all got their life from that version of the bible. Yeah. Really. C’est vrai, for our French readers.

The December 2011 issue of National Geographic discusses the history and influence of the King James Bible, and in an article titled “A Bible’s Gift to Language,” it lists several famous phrases the book originated. In the list below, I have included phrases from that article and also phrases I found at the website The Phrase Finder.



Common English phrases from the King James Bible:

A drop in the bucket Isaiah 40:15

A house divided against itself cannot stand. – Matthew 12:25

A labor of love – Hebrews 6:10

A thorn in the flesh – 2 Corinthians 12:7

All things must pass. – Matthew 24:6

At their wits’ end – Psalms 107:27

Be horribly afraid – Jeremiah 2:12

Coat of many colors – Genesis 37:3

Eat, drink, and be merry. – Ecclesiastes 8:15

Fall from grace – Galatians 5:4

Fight the good fight. – Timothy 6.12

How are the mighty fallen – Samuel 1:19

Know for a certainty – Joshua 23:13

Many are called, but few are chosen. – Matthew 22:14

My cup runneth over. – Psalms 23:5

Out of the mouths of babes – Psalms 8:2

Set thine house in order – Isaiah 38:1

The ends of the earth – Zechariah 9:10

The love of money is the root of all evil. – Timothy 6:10

The root of the matter – Job 19:28

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. – Matthew 26:41

To everything there is a season. – Ecclesiastes 3:1

Turned the world upside down – Acts 17:6

Want to learn more?
There are even more common phrases that were popularized by (but did not originated from) the King James Bible and more phrases that came into the language from earlier versions of the bible. To learn more about those phrases, check out the site I mentioned earlier, The Phrase Finder.

Also, author David Crystal wrote an entire book about this subject, called Begat. Click here to read an interview he did with NPR about his book and to read an excerpt.

Word Nerd Wednesday

Welcome back to this week’s Word Nerd Wednesday.  Here are some of the best language-related stories I found on the interwebs:

What do alligators, cannibals, and potatoes have in common? They are all Spanish words the English language adopted. A lot of these are eyebrow raisers. Here’s the list at vocabulary.com.

Ever wonder if you are pronouncing Ayn Rand or Vladimir Nabokov’s name correctly? Here’s a pronunciation guide for tricky authors’ names from buzzfeed.com.

Does the sound of chomping and slurping drive you into a rage? If so, you may have misophonia. Here’s more about this strange phobia from nytimes.com.

If you like to tinker, and you love eBook readers, you just might like this guide to making your eBook reader solar powered. From Life Hacker.

I hope you had a nice Labor Day weekend. Unless, of course, you have ergasiomania, which is “a restless desire, amounting at times to an insane impulsion, to be continually at work.” Learn more words about laboring at Wordnik.

Attention page designers: Tired of that “lorem ipsum” holder text? Check out this collection of new and awesome dummy text at Nieman Lab.

Here’s an example of “hipster speak”:

DIY sustainable irony, +1 four loko scenester hoodie raw denim homo williamsburg banksy banh mi before they sold out twee. Put a bird on it thundercats Austin, trust fund carles ethical iphone you probably haven’t heard of them hoodie raw denim. Carles gluten-free you probably haven’t heard of them PBR. Iphone next level put a bird on it high life homo food truck viral. Craft beer thundercats mcsweeney’s brunch terry richardson keytar. American apparel dreamcatcher cardigan, irony homo mlkshk marfa. You probably haven’t heard of them seitan viral freegan, trust fund farm-to-table pitchfork twee irony terry richardson food truck readymade squid next level mixtape.

And “Yorkshire Slang”:

God’s own county tell this summat for nowt risus tha daft apeth nisi ah’ll box thi ears mardy bum wacken thi sen up breadcake erat. Ee by gum god’s own county ey up shurrup mi porta where’s tha bin. Tristique massa michael palin ah’ll box thi ears habitant morbi tristique senectus t’foot o’ our stairs shurrup aye shurrup nah then soft lad ac turpis a pint ‘o mild cras eleifend mauris nec quam sagittis dahn t’coil oil th’art nesh, thee accumsan will ‘e ‘eckerslike libero ut breadcake gerritetten ey up commodo breadcake shu’ thi gob dahn t’coil oil dahn t’coil oil gi’ o’er face like a slapped arse hendrerit, nunc neque gerritetten dolor, vitae bobbar where there’s muck there’s brass mi eget breadcake how much. Lectus nunc, ‘sup wi’ ‘im. A ey up nec, ah’ll gi’ thi summat to rooer abaht mardy bum nobbut a lad tell this summat for nowt ah’ll gi’ thee a thick ear nobbut a lad faucibus et by ‘eck ut, that’s champion ah’ll learn thi nisl. T’ ey up risus, tha knows bloomin’ ‘eck amet michael palin face like a slapped arse tha daft apeth in mi. Will ‘e ‘eckerslike nay lad ‘sup wi’ ‘im. Ee by gum nah then placerat gerritetten ey up aye aliquam cack-handed enim id purus blandit where there’s muck there’s brass et where’s tha bin. Leo.

And now “journo ipsum”:

rubber cement we will make them pay David Foster Wallace startups plagiarism kitchen table of the future link economy right-sizing linking awesome cancel my subscription Instagram, CPM layoffs filters WaPo gamification future of context What Would Google Do Flipboard paywall. TBD Politics & Socks page meme we need a Nate Silver curmudgeon hot news doctrine in the slot, Bill Keller we will make them pay What Would Google Do algorithms Neil Postman reality-based, Demand Media bringing a tote bag to a knife fight NPR discuss newsonomics.

Word Nerd Wednesday

an xkcd comic

Here’s a roundup of my favorite language-related stories, brought to you by the pipes of the Internet.

Ben Zimmer meditates on The Beatles’ use of pronouns in The New York Times.

Really? Bubble Wrap is a trademark? Here are twenty-four other words you might not know are trademarked, all in one nifty post from Mental Floss.

Kinda freaky for the younglings, but . . . David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” in children’s book form.

Fun quiz! Guess the books by their covers at Sporcle.

How Shakespearean are you? This neat page lets you cut and paste a passage of modern-day English and compares it with all words Shakespeare used in his plays to give you a percentage of your passage’s words that you could find in, say, Othello. From the OxfordWords blog. And they say the English language is dumbed down.