I have always wondered what the H in Jesus H. Christ stands for. Do you know?
Jesus H. Christ first appeared in American print in the late 1800s – although Mark Twain argued that the expression began a century before that. And he should know because with hair like his Mr. Twain had plenty of reason to curse.
The origin of Jesus H. Christ goes a little something like this:
Jesus is the artist formerly known as ??????. This is Ancient Greek to Bossy, but I think we all can agree that it must have been a bit clumsy to shout out, “Iota eta sigma omicron upsilon sigma!” every time you dropped an Ionic Architrave on your foot.
Nevertheless this continued until those wild and crazy Latin-speaking Christians of medieval Western Europe decided to establish a Christogram – which is a symbol that represents an abbreviation of Jesus Christ. Here’s what they did:
They plucked iota eta sigma from the longer Greek version shown above.
- Iota became an I.
- Eta became an H.
- Sigma became an S.
And the Latin interpretation of IHS became Iesus Hominum Salvator – which means Jesus, Savior of Men. It all makes perfect sense! Problem: What does IHS have to do with Jesus H. Christ?
Well – sometimes iota eta sigma was transliterated to IHC due to the visually similar form of the lunate sigma. Which is a fancy way of saying C and S look alike. If you’re a Latin-speaking Christian medieval person. Or on drugs.
And then in the 17th century the Latin letter J was discovered hanging around some oint listening to azz. This letter J was given its own designation separate from the visually similar form of iota – which is the
Latin-speaking Christian medieval way of saying What You Talkin ‘Bout Willis?
So then IHC turned into JHC! Jesus H. Christ!
Either that or the H stands for Harold, as in “Our Father, who art in Heaven, Harold be thy name.”