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Q: Origin of slang expression ( Answered 1 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Origin of slang expression
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: kenmkuhl-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 17 Jun 2002 23:03 PDT
Expires: 24 Jun 2002 23:03 PDT
Question ID: 28311
I am looking for the ORIGIN of an expression I often heard used by
members of my family while growing up in Saint Louis, Missouri.  I
have never seen the expression written, so I do not know how it is
spelled, but here is how I would spell it:
“gee manatly.”  It’s use is similar to the expressions, “holy cow,”
“good grief,” or “good Lord.”  Eg. “Gee Manatly, that is a gigantic
building!”  Phonetically, it is pronounced Gee Ma Nat’ Lee.  The
accent is on the ‘Nat.’  I am a little unclear in my memory of the
exact vowel sound in the ‘Ma’ portion.  I would say it is most like
the word ‘man.’
Subject: Re: Origin of slang expression
Answered By: rmhultd-ga on 19 Jun 2002 15:27 PDT
Rated:1 out of 5 stars
Geemaninee, dontcha just love English?!

I grew up in the south, so this answer is drawn from both personal
experience and professional reference.  According to "A Dictionary of
Euphamisms & Other Doubletalk" by Hugh Rawson, Crown Publishers NY
"...Other "gee" substitutes for "Jesus" include gee-hollikins,
gee-my-knee, geewhilliker(s), geewhillikins (possibly the progenitor
of "gee"), gee whiz (perhaps from "gee ziz"), and geewizard, as well
as such sound-alikes as Jee, Jeez, jeepers (-creepers), Jiminy
Cricket, and Jingo.  Many attempts also have been made to mitigate the
sinfulness of the oath by extending the holy name..."

In our attempts to express ourselves and not get escorted behind the
wood shed, we kids would create all kinds of vocal gesticulations!

I've enjoyed this sojourn down memory lane.  Thanks!

Clarification of Answer by rmhultd-ga on 20 Jun 2002 16:49 PDT
Dear kenmkuhl,

Please feel free to reject any answer, including mine.

But, to clarify, let me add that, given the information related in the
other posts relevant to your question, my addition was based on the
morph of language as it pertains to euphemisms, generously
and enthusiastically expressed by youngsters.  And that is one way
slang expressions, hence, languages, evolve.  This tends to bring
a very humanistic essence to communication.

As the customer, you deserve respect.

I wish you happiness in your future encounters.

kenmkuhl-ga rated this answer:1 out of 5 stars
I am surprised that rmhultd-ga would risk their 'researcher
reputation' by offering such an incomplete answer.  (They must really
need my $5!)  Especially when a someone (lisarea-ga) had previously
left a comment that actually addressed the question and made great
strides to answering it.  rmhultd-ga, you only attempted to tackle the
first 3 letters of the word/phrase I asked about, and even that part
was covered briefly and incompletely.

lisarea-ga: thank you SO much for your comment.  I wish you had
submitted it as an answer!  You would have gotten a high rating. 
After reading your comment, I too remember hearing 'Criminutles' and
am certain there is a relation...probably just a vernacular variation.

lisarea-ga, larre-ga, andgertelsen-ga, thank you all for your helpful

rmhultd-ga, nothing personal, but please actually put in an effort
when answering a question that is important enough to someone for them
to pay you for an answer.


Subject: Re: Origin of slang expression
From: larre-ga on 17 Jun 2002 23:41 PDT
Could it be a variation of jiminy? (gee-man-KNEE)

Jimminy/by Jiminy: a mild oath or exclamation. Originally from the
17th Century corruption of Gemini. The later variations Jimminy
Christmas and Jiminy Cricket are variations of Jesu Domine, or Jesus

Subject: Re: Origin of slang expression
From: gertelsen-ga on 18 Jun 2002 00:49 PDT
There is a slang Antwerp (Belgium) expression "jumenas" which sounds
more or less the same, it would be pronounced "Gee Ma Nas", and it
would be used in similar situations as you describe.

And, in the Netherlands "jeminee" - pronounced "yay-mi-nay" - is very
often used in similar situations.

That would match with the comment from Larre... (see also Both "jumenas" and "jeminee"
are used in Dutch, but both are slang words.

Hope that helps...
Subject: Re: Origin of slang expression
From: lisarea-ga on 18 Jun 2002 09:57 PDT
Not an answer, but maybe a link in the chain. 

My father grew up during the Depression in Detriot, and among his
colorful vocabulary were a couple of words that might help you.

When expressing slight anger or distaste, he'd say something I'd spell
as 'Crimines,' which was pronounced sort of like 'Crime in knees.' I
suspect it's simply a plural form of the relatively common 'Criminy.'
However, when faced with a slight that was not so slight, my father
would draw out the first syllable as 'Crimiiii,' lowering his tone
slightly, obviously meditating on the issue, then practically spit out
'NUT,' and end, finally, with the denoument 'lees.' I have absolutely
no documentation or appeal to authority on this--I guess you'd have to
be there--but 'criminutles' was clearly a stronger form of 'crimines.'

This word I'd spell 'criminutles,' but a Google search is
automatically redirecting me to a search on "Criminals." Searching on
"crimines" gets me typos for variants of 'criminal' and
Spanish-language pages. "Criminy" gets me lots of mild complaining,
but no real explanation.

The explanation you've already gotten does seem likely. 

Linguistics is not an exact science, but I'd begin with the
explanation that led you through the 'Jiminy' variations, then perhaps
add the evolution to 'Criminy/Crimines,' then through my father's
escalation to 'Criminutles,' then on to your word in question, 'Gee
Manatly.' It seems a logical progression, for large enough values of
the term 'logical,' anyway.

Remember, too, that these sort of exclamations are often intentionally
obfuscated. Imagine someone hitting his thumb with a hammer, opening
his mouth to express his anger and despair at the situation, then
noticing his mother standing there, and having to come up with
something on the fly.

Something like 'Cheese and crackers,' 'For crying out loud,' or
possibly, 'Gee Manatly.' And note that, with use, such terms
themselves may become unsuitable for mom, so the next time the
situation replays, the term may need to be re-obfuscated, which could
explain the rapid evolution. It's also likely that the term 'branched'
at various points--these things don't spread via national media--so
it's probably not strictly a linear evolution, either. 'Gee Manatly'
may well be a parallel development to 'Criminutles' with a similar

Boy howdy, this is fun.


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