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Great Scott!

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  • Great Scott!

    Fans of the Silver Age know that DC's characters in that era often used the expression "Great Scott!"

    Fred Shapiro of the New York Times traces the origin of this exclamation.

    Quotes Uncovered
    By FRED SHAPIRO

    Each week, I’ve been inviting readers to submit quotations whose origins they want me to try to trace, using my book, The Yale Book of Quotations, and my more recent research. Here is the latest round.

    Gabe asked:

    I thought of this while watching Back To The Future the other day. I’m curious where the expression (exclamation) “Great Scott!” came from. Who is Scott? Why does Doc Brown keep referring to him?

    At last we get to Gabe’s question, which he has been patiently repeating since November. I apologize for the fact that we have a backlog of quotation queries. Michael Quinion, on his excellent website World Wide Words, notes:

    Until recently the earliest known example, in the big Oxford English Dictionary, was from F Anstey’s Tinted Venus of 1885: “Great Scott! I must be bad!” But the digitising of electronic texts and the recent publication of the diary of an American Civil War veteran have moved the saying back in stages to the time of that conflict. The diary is Eye of the Storm: a Civil War Odyssey, written and illustrated by Private Robert Knox Sneden. He says in his diary entry of 3 May 1864: “Great Scott,” who would have thought that this would be the destiny of the Union Volunteer in 1861–2 while marching down Broadway to the tune of “John Brown’s Body.”

    The great word-sleuth Barry Popik found important evidence in a book by John William De Forest, Miss Ravenel’s Conversion From Secession to Loyalty (1867)

    I follow General Scott. No Virginian need be ashamed to follow old Fuss and Feathers. We used to swear by him in the army. Great Scott! the fellows said.

    The reference is to General Winfield Scott, who commanded one of the two American armies in the Mexican War and was the Union general-in-chief at the beginning of the Civil War. This and other evidence, although not conclusive, points strongly to Winfield Scott as the source of the expression “Great Scott!”

  • #2
    Interesting. I always like to find out the origins of words and phrases.
    I LOVE conspiracy theorists. They are like human versions of the cymbal clapping, dancing monkeys. No one takes them all that seriously and they get bored with them after about 10 minutes.

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    • #3
      I always thought it was a way to get to say "Great God" without offending people. You know, like Jeez, Cripes, Freaking etc.

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      • #4
        I remember hearing a few weeks ago about the origin of "Getting off Scott free." It had to do with something about Scottish folks not getting busted for crimes when back when.


        My teacher once told me the origin of "O.K." Came from the U.S. President Andrew Jackson who used to approve some document or something. Jackson wrote Oll Korrect. It's amazing that you go to any part of the world and say O.K. and they'll know what you mean.
        You just witnessed the strength of geek knowledge. N.W.A., Nerd With Attitude. Straight out of Vulcan!

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        • #5
          Great Caesar's Ghost!!!

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          • #6
            Never knew the origin of Great Scott. I just figured it was Superman's catchphrase from the Superfriends. Just about all the characters had their own "Great" catchphrase:

            Superman- Great Scott!
            Batman- Great Gotham!
            Wonder Woman- Merciful Minerva!
            Aquaman- Great Atlantis!
            Green Lantern- Great Guardians!
            Black Vulcan- Great Lightning!
            Flash- Great Wings of Mercury!
            Robin- Holy ______ (insert situation)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by sylent_asassin View Post
              Never knew the origin of Great Scott. I just figured it was Superman's catchphrase from the Superfriends. Just about all the characters had their own "Great" catchphrase:

              Superman- Great Scott!
              Batman- Great Gotham!
              Wonder Woman- Merciful Minerva!
              Aquaman- Great Atlantis!
              Green Lantern- Great Guardians!
              Black Vulcan- Great Lightning!
              Flash- Great Wings of Mercury!
              Robin- Holy ______ (insert situation)
              How could you forget.....



















              The Wonder Twins - Activate


              Follow The Nobodies Comic on Facebook or Twitter

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              • #8
                Originally posted by JohnnyV View Post
                How could you forget.....



















                The Wonder Twins - Activate

                Thru sheer willpower. :P
                -Rational arguments are inherently highly ineffective against irrational beliefs.
                -Marriage is not heterosexual privilege, but rather a civil right.

                -"My objection to religious belief is not that it is universally harmful but, simply, that it is false."

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Power Ring View Post
                  Thru sheer willpower. :P
                  And selective memory.

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                  • #10
                    Gleek made that team work.
                    You just witnessed the strength of geek knowledge. N.W.A., Nerd With Attitude. Straight out of Vulcan!

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                    • #11
                      Holy Zarquon's singing fish!!!!

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                      • #12
                        it was also used in back to the future
                        .................................................. ..........................

                        Cnn = constant nasuating nonsense

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JohnnyV View Post
                          How could you forget.....



                          The Wonder Twins - Activate
                          I always wanted to see the Wonder Twins kick the crap out of Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog, that cheap knock-off of Scooby Doo.

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